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So you’re great at multitasking? Think again…..

The phrase “multi-tasking” has been around for some time now and it’s a theme that is more relevant in today’s world than ever before.

Look at how many things there are in our day to day lives that are wrestling for our attention……..your partner, your kids, your customers, TV and radio adverts and, of course, the absolute multitude of data and material on several social media platforms. Multiply that by the number of devices through which our attention is being diverted…….TV, PC/laptop/Mac, smartphone, smartwatch…………….and throw into the mix the numerous communication Apps out there………..text, email, Messenger, Twitter DM, LinkedIn messages, WhatsApp……..the list can be endless!

This is just one example of an area in our lives today where we find ourselves multi-tasking. But this area, believe it or not, is one of the easier to manage and to actually multi-task on. That’s because our brain is essentially dealing with one form of task in all of this…………..communication.

Why multi-tasking is a myth

But things get a lot more complicated when running a small business and trying to multi-task. If you think you’re a champion at multi-tasking, think again. Research shows that there is no such thing as multi-tasking. In fact, what you’re actually doing is a series of Stop/Start exercises.

There are a number of downsides to working in this fashion:

  1. There is a greater chance that nothing actually gets done, certainly not finished
  2. The risk of making a mistake is much greater
  3. The quality of work done or service provided will definitely be diminished
  4. Everything will take longer to complete

Imagine you’ve booked into a luxury hotel with your husband/wife/partner for a few nights away to celebrate a special occasion. You arrive at the reception to be greeted by a friendly member of staff who calls the porter to immediately take your bags into his care. Then, you’re asked about your stay, told that there is a special gift for you for your special occasion, and the receptionist pays great attention to you both and wants to hear more about you. She arranges complimentary drinks for you before dinner later. All in all, she devotes her entire focus and attention on your needs.

Compare that to arriving to find a receptionist dealing with 4 customers at the same time whilst answering all incoming calls, firing out quick email responses on the fly, clicking “Thanks” to some new feedback on their Facebook page………whilst claiming that she’s a champion at multi-tasking.

Anything that puts the customer experience and service quality at risk can’t be a good thing……….yet this is how many of us allow our team and ourselves to carry out our day-to-day activities when running our business. It’s time to end the madness.

A better approach

Many of us might remember our parents telling us “one thing at a time” and this is the most simple but effective way to ditch the myth of multi-tasking. From now on, try focusing on one job/task/customer at a time. Try bringing in some mindfulness techniques to this approach and you’re in a win-win situation. If you completely immerse yourself in one task at a time, there is no doubt you’ll have:

  • A better quality job done
  • A feeling of accomplishment of getting something finished
  • An improved result for your customers
  • Things actually getting completed quicker than before

What to do now

To get you started on the more productive method of single-tasking, have a look at all the things you have to do in your business today. Pick the ONE thing that will have the BIGGEST impact on your business and do that first, and do NOTHING else until that’s done If it can’t be done all at once, pick the stage you want to get to and stick with it until then.

Schedule specific times to check and respond to email each day and stick to it (and usually first thing each day is not the best time to do this, as it could end up diverting your attention from the get-go). The same applies to your social media activity.

As with all forms of business improvement, the time to start a new idea or process is NOW!

So forget about the myth of multi-tasking and start the real work of single-tasking. You’ll be amazed at the change in your stress levels and how much more productive you’ll be.

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