It’s a common struggle. You have a lot on your plate and feel pulled in multiple directions, so you try to tackle multiple tasks at once. You watch your inbox while you write a report for your boss. You sip your coffee, listen in on a phone conference, and send an internal office message to your colleague across the hall. Or worse, you try to whittle down your inbox while you drive.
Multitasking is more than just unproductive – it’s downright scary.
Prolonged stress and short-term memory loss are just a few of the serious symptoms of multitasking, according to David Meyer, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan. Another study from Carnegie Mellon University showed that trying to manage two mental tasks at once reduced brain power availability for both.
If you find yourself constantly trying to multitask, give yourself a break with these easy tips to limit distraction and focus your mind.
Close Your Office Door
You’re less efficient if you try to focus on multiple projects at once, shows a study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. Having an open door policy can force you to focus on multiple projects at once with frequent distractions and interruptions.
Schedule time into your day where you can close your door and focus on the projects at hand. Let your team know that you’ll be “offline” for an hour and use that time to get productive. Turn off your phone, close your email, and get to work. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can get done with some time to focus distraction free.
Use the “Focus” Feature in Your Word Documents.
Do you have a long report to finalize? Are you writing your blog posts in Word? Take advantage of the “Focus” feature. This feature is found under the “View” menu. It blacks out all other open windows so that you see only the text in front of you. It does the focusing for you!
Get Out of the Office
With technology cutting the tether from your desk, it’s easier to get out and work from anywhere. These days, more professionals are finding it easier to go to a coffee shop and drown themselves in distraction free work for a few hours. Some companies are even allowing their employees to work from home a few days a week to avoid the temptation to multitask in the office.
Getting away from the office makes it easier to avoid distraction from the phone, email, or your colleagues. If you’re frequently distracted at work, leave for a few hours and find a place that’s more conducive to helping you stay tuned in to your work.
Multitasking might sound productive on paper, but in practice it’s quite the opposite. What do you do to help focus on one task at a time?