Do you practice switchtasking?

Think back to last week and ask yourself, “How many hours did I spend watching TV, sleeping or commuting to and from work – and how many did I actually spend working?”

Even if you’re passionate about your work, you might not be aware of how you really spend your time. So, if you want to make sure that you’re spending your time when and where you want to, create a schedule and make a time budget for the future.

First of all, be honest and accurate about how you’re currently spending your time, and write your activities down on the schedule.

This should help you identify the areas that you would like to improve upon, whether it’s finding more time for family and friends, or perhaps putting more hours toward a new project that you’d like to focus on.

Next, you can make a future time budget. If you want to spend more time exercising or with your kids, block off this time so that it will be devoted to what’s important to you.

Let’s put on the CEO hat one more time and find out what can be done to get your employees to stop switchtasking and start focusing on one task at a time.

Your first instinct might be to hold a meeting and simply tell everyone to stop switchtasking – but there’s a more effective way to change people’s habits.

Since the idea of multitasking has been idealized for so long, getting people to recognize the better way and change their habits should be seen as a process.

You can do this by setting an example and allowing your employees to see firsthand how inefficient switchtasking is and how much time they can save by focusing on tasks one at a time.

So don’t force change among employees. Establish a personal system that will go on to influence the larger business system.

As the CEO or division head, your personal system might be different from how others operate, but once it becomes clear that it provides superior results, it will become the accepted way of doing business.

So start implementing the anti-switchtasking changes from the start: set regularly scheduled meetings, post regular office hours and start managing your emails and phone calls in a focused and deliberate manner.

All of these policies will soon influence broader business protocols in a positive way.

Employees will notice that your way of operating is reliable and consistent, while also making you available and responsive to employees when necessary.

Before long, they’ll be implementing these policies in their own work.

In their interactions with you, it will be clear how effective it is to focus on one task at a time. And when they inevitably begin to adopt this approach themselves, it will be even more effective because it wasn’t forced upon them and they made the choice to do so themselves.

Once this happens, you’ll have a highly efficient business on your hands.

This flawed notion of being able to do everything at once has been a drain on workplaces for far too long. The fact of the matter is that dividing our attention among more than one task at a time is simply impossible; what we are really doing is switching back and forth between activities and tasks and, as a result, are spending more time getting less done.

But before you go, try a simple exercise to prove that multitasking is inefficient and eats up your time.

Grab a pen and a piece of paper and set a timer. Now, prepare yourself to write a short sentence, such as “Multitasking is really switchtasking.” For every letter, write a number underneath that letter, starting with the number one and proceeding in order. So, start the timer and write “M,” then write “1” underneath it. Then write “U,” followed by a “2” underneath it, and so on until the end of the sentence; stop the timer when you’re done. Now, start the timer and, this time, write the sentence in full first and then write all the numbers underneath each letter afterward. The results will be clear: it’s always faster to do one thing at a time.

Check out my related post: How to stay focused?

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