Multi-tasking or Distracted?
Mom’s are notorious for being proud of themselves for their multi-tasking talents. I used to be one of those moms. Spouse, kids, chores, sports, work, church, fitness, and the list goes on and on.
Seriously, when I had the twins I could feed one while helping my four year old build a popsicle stick house. I could do the dishes by hand while lulling one to sleep and I could clean my house in under an hour while they napped. All this while chasing their two barely older siblings around.
Four children under the age of four was a multi-tasking whirlwind.
And I learned something very important about multi-tasking…
You shouldn’t do it.
Like texting and driving, it can lead to a disaster.
Time and Money Honey
In an effort to get everything done, or stay ahead, or just plain keep up, I learned that I forfeited time and energy that should have been used differently.
Time is a funny thing. Most people will work themselves into the dirt to earn more money to buy more things. They will multi-task and work frantically day and night chasing whatever it is they have deemed worthy of their dollars.
But money, when it comes at the cost of time is a dreadfully expensive thing.
You can’t replace time. What we should be doing from the earliest possible moment is working to gain more time.
Having a steady income stream from a job will earn you money but cost you time. Having a steady income from residual streams, will earn you more time and money!
Multi-tasking in Business
So why exactly should you stop multi-tasking in your effort to earn more money. Afterall, isn’t multiple income streams going to require me to juggle it all and then some?
No. Not if done properly.
When people set goals, especially using the old outdated SMART kind of method, they are setting themselves up for the least effective way to actually produce the outcome they are looking for.
I could list more than a dozen personal examples of why this method doesn’t work. The SMART method was taught to me in high school and college and I can tell you it’s not worth beans when it comes to accomplishments.
Why Doensn’t Multi-tasking Work?
Well for one it’s a time suck zone.
How many times have you sat down to start a project, let’s say write an article before you head off to your day job. You have two hours to get something put together. You are about fifteen minutes in and your phone beeps so you check your text and decide you can answer it later.
A few more minutes pass and then your FB messenger goes off. You again look at your phone and see an invite from a friend for a bday party next weekend. You respond asking for time and directions. Three or four message exchanges later and a comment on a new photo posted while you await the directions for the party. This little escapade cost you nearly twenty minutes.
Back to your article for another fifteen. You get up to use the restroom and grab something to drink. You sit down and begin typing again and your email pops up. Four new pinterest followers. So you open another screen, check out who followed you and get lured into pinning for ten minutes.
Your two hours is up and you’ve typed 600 words, mostly rambling thoughts, and have some nice doodles on the paper sitting on your desk. Certainly nothing you would publish.
A Black Hole
Yeah but distractions are everywhere.
Yep but learning to tune them out will be the difference between one’s successes and failures.
The mailman drives by, the UPS guy drops off a package, the boss asks just one more task of you, etc.
I discovered this multi-tasking nightmare one night while I was reading to my children. It was her turn to read and my turn to listen. Then work called. I answered and finished the call as soon as possible. A few moments later I got a text about my car that was for sale so I messaged back the interested buyer. Less than two minutes later one of my other children interrupted for homework help.
My daughter began crying. We had only fifteen minutes to read together and I had ruined it.
Like totally blew it.
As I lay in bed that night I beat myself up over my inability to devote 15 minutes of solid time to bonding with my child. Answering calls, texts, and even catering to other children while listening to one read was certainly multi-tasking, and it was void of any accomplishment.
I was already having the year from hell. But I was reflecting on my goals and accomplishments or lack thereof.
I started connecting the dots between multi-tasking and not really getting much done. Super busy doing not much at all.
The thing is, while one is multi-tasking 100mph, it feels like so much is getting done all at once. Sadly it couldn’t be further from the truth. All multi-tasking means is that the hampster wheel is spinning 100mph too, but no progress is being made. It’s like setting yourself on fire and watching while you burn until there is just a smolder.
After that quick call or text you take, it takes nearly three to four minutes to even reset and focus back on the original task and almost twelve minutes to get into a “zone” of productivity.
You see, every time a person switches from one task to another, they lose about 20% productivity. This isn’t a joke or an underestimation. If fact, it’s probably being generous. Switching from one task to another more than just three times basically takes your efforts to zilch. May as well be watching a netflix marathon because all progress is lost.
It’s called context switching and Todd Herman who is a superstar when it comes to helping others reach the peak of their success talks about it here. He is Melyssa Griffin’s business coach and let’s face it. That girl has knocked her business out of the park. Like Grand Slam and still going.
Some Light in the Tunnel
I learned a valuable lesson from my daughter’s meltdown. When I spend time with them now it is focused, uninterrupted time. Am I perfect at this? No. But waaaayyy better.
The same goes with work.
Learning to stop context switching and focus on the task at hand can help achieve a year’s worth of work in three months time.
When I first discovered this it wasn’t business I was applying it to and I didn’t know the fancy term for it (Thanks Todd!). I simply knew I was distracted and wanted the time spent with my children to count. No mindless, half-listening, barely bonding for this gal. That wasn’t the kind of parent I wanted to be.
Then it occurred to me again when I saw a co-worker texting, trying to finish his homework, and writing up a new schedule for his softball team while on employee time. No wonder they kept complaining he wasn’t getting much done. He really wasn’t. His grades weren’t all that great either. Multi-tasking was crushing his performance.
If he could stop the context switching and focus on one task at a time he might have actually succeeded at one of them.
Make Some Progress
The idea is to be more successful in all areas of life right? Well don’t let time sucking distractions rob you of that.
Phones are a major one simply because, well, tweet, FB, ring, etc. But there are others and it truly depends on the individual.
I whole-heartedly recommend clicking on the link above for the Todd H training videos (free four part series). The details and explanations are spot on and the guy’s people skills are phenominal. I bet he doesn’t let distractions in while trying to create connections with others!
Most valuable free content I have watched in a long time. Too awesome not to share. He does offer a product at the end but the video’s are totally free and worth every minute.
I want my new blog to take off and succeed. I want to create more residual income streams so that my finances are rock solid. No more multi-tasking for this girl. Solid focused strategy from here on out. Not just in business but in all areas of my life!
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