Busy Isn’t Better: STOP Multitasking

One of the most important things you can do when you are overwhelmed is to focus on one or two things.

Easier said than done, huh?

I consistently work with people who want to be more productive and dare I say, be more EFFECTIVE. It’s the nature of my job. When I teach a class on project management, process improvement or change management, people aren’t there for a pep talk; they want results.

What they need is a way to break through the ice that has them locked in place.

While I provide tools and resources, one of the things that is often left to simple advice is the notion that in order to “break through,” people often need to pause and focus on the one or two things that will make the biggest impact.

It’s counterintuitive because we work in a “busy is better” culture, and that generates a desire to work harder when things get tough, rather than smarter. We work late rather than making an effort to get home and get rested so that we can be our best selves the next day. We double down on the things that are clearly not working because we never make time to assess the effectiveness of our work. We tell everyone how busy we are but hope to God that they never discover how unproductive we’ve actually been.

So my advice is simple.

Stop and think about what you are doing.

Clear the mental clutter that is making you feel overwhelmed; make a list of your tasks or projects. Turn off your phone and email notifications. The sound distracts you and annoys your co-workers (it’s true, they’re just not telling you).

What can you do this week, today, or in the next 25 minutes that will make the biggest impact? What will move you forward the MOST? What 1-2 actions will give you the most breathing room?

Focus on just those things for a bit.

Make progress, then reassess.

What gets us STUCK, isn’t the amount of work we have to do, but our mental capacity to make sense of it all. We’re not wired for multitasking, yet we consistently ask ourselves to do so by trying to take on everything at once.

So don’t.


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