In our lives today, we are busier than ever before. We think technology has streamlined many tasks, but instead we are given tools that give us more and more to do with less time to do it. We are stressed and overwhelmed. The phrase “time management” implies there are different ways to cram even more into our already overflowing lives. Yeah, right.
We have been led to believe that if we don’t multitask every minute of our day, we will not be productive. This can’t be further from the truth. Successful people have long realized that focus is the key to being productive.
Most of what we say and do is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more time, and more tranquility. Ask yourself at every moment, ‘Is this necessary?’ - Marcus Aurelius
Increasing your focus means you should get up each day looking forward to what you can achieve. Being focused means you are making progress towards what is most important to you. You will feel a greater sense of productivity and fulfillment. Isn't that what we're all looking for?
Let's take a look at why focus is important in both your personal and professional life. Over the next few blog posts you’ll learn tips and strategies on gaining and keeping your focus so you can be productive in everything you do. Multitasking is one of the most overrated skills people claim to have. I'll also explain why I, as an Empowerment Coach, am so interested in this topic.
Why is being focused so important in today’s world? What happens when you're focused? Does being focused make you less stressed? Happier? If it’s so important, why don’t people focus more?
Being focused on one thing for a certain period allows you to do a better quality of work, more work gets done quicker, and lets creative ideas flow easier. Being focused on one task at a time is less stressful on your mind. Being less stressed allows you to be happier.
It’s difficult for people to remain focused on one task for a variety of reasons. For one, we live in a world where we are constantly bombarded with TV, radio, cell phones, Internet, social media, as well as a much larger population that lives closer together than ever before.
It’s difficult to get completely away from all these distractions.
When you focus on a single task, avoiding distractions, your brain becomes focused on that task alone. This lets you complete that task much more quickly than if you are trying to complete two or more tasks at once.
For instance, let’s say you need to write a blog post, do your bookkeeping for the week and research information for an upcoming speech. The best thing to do is to set aside all but one of those tasks. So, for this example, you want to give all your attention writing your blog post. That means turning off the TV, cell phones, social media pings, closing your door and putting all your attention on writing.
By giving all your attention to the task without distraction, you can get it done much more quickly and with fewer mistakes. Your work will be higher quality as well. Another benefit to being focused is that your creativity will kick in too. You’ll come up with new ideas associated with the task at hand.
This is great if you are someone who creates in some way. This includes traditional creative types like artists, writers, photographers, designers, and musicians, as well as people who create products or services, teachers, researchers, stay-at-home parents, executives, bloggers, and anyone who needs ideas. This means just about everyone can benefit.
Being constantly connected to others and having many distractions that take away your focus can affect your stress levels as well as your productivity. When you aren’t focused, you don’t get as much done as you could if you were truly focused on the task you’re doing.
Focusing on one thing for a certain period helps you think better. Having your mind scattered over several tasks at once keeps you from thinking about what you are doing. You only have time to complete a task quickly before you must move on to the next one. All the while you are trying to remember everything that must be done. When you focus, you can think about only one thing for that period. It actually gives your brain a break instead of "switching tabs" all the time.
Focusing allows your subconscious to do the work. Think about when you learned to ride a bike or drive a car. It was difficult in the beginning, but when you began focusing on what you were doing, your subconscious took over and helped you learn. The same is true in your everyday tasks. Once you begin focusing solely on one task, your subconscious helps you do them quicker and easier.
Multitasking is overrated
If you’re like many people you spend most days multitasking. Guilty over here!! You’re probably so used to multitasking that you don’t even realize when you’re doing it. After all, it’s a skill many employers look for in their employees. People believe multitasking saves them time or because they become bored working on one task at a time. There are many reasons why multitasking is actually bad.
Why is multitasking bad, you ask?
For one, you switch from task to task. This takes time for your mind to change into the right mindset for the new task. You have to take the time to remember where you left off.
Not to mention, multitasking leads to attention and memory loss. According to a study by Harvard Professor Clifford Nass, in findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, people who use online social media and other forms of electronic communications have trouble focusing their attention and have lower scores on memory tests. Eeeek.
Cognitive performance is also diminished. A recent study by Zheng Wang, a professor at Ohio State University, showed that multitasking caused students to feel more productive, but showed they were reducing their cognitive skills abilities such as studying.
Socially, it also turns people off when you are interacting with them. If you only half pay attention to them, answering texts and phone calls while talking to them, you will lose their respect, which isn't a good look for anyone. Trust me, you don't look like the suave business type in the movies, you look overworked and come off as rude, most of the time.
Multitaskers lose productivity. Switching between tasks is counterproductive. You lose time and concentration every time you switch to a different task.
Finally, multitaskers are less likely to finish one quality project. They may finish all their tasks for the day, but they will most likely be sub-par than if they had focused solely on one to completion.
Multitasking makes it difficult to focus entirely on each task you are doing. You are thinking about emails you must respond to when writing a report and the phone calls you need to return even while you are thinking about the next task on your to-do list. This type of working environment doesn’t do anything but cause you stress. Instead of multitasking among several tasks, you should prioritize your tasks and break them up into workable time chunks.
Sounds exhausting right? Don't worry, I've got a few tips and tricks to help you get over the multitasking nonsense - check back tomorrow for the next post!
Now, after reading all that you might be wondering why in the hell I'm so concerned with this. As an Empowerment Coach, my job is to give my clients resources for taking power back so they can use that energy to creating the life they dream of.
By ending the multi-tasking my clients are able to focus on things that are important to them, and reach their goals faster. Instead of running around doing busy work, and trying to be productive just for the sake of being productive, we're getting clear on our actual goals.
By ending this hustle mindset, we're actually taking back our personal power, especially if we're trying to move away from the 9-5 shuffle.
It's all about boundaries and confidence, my wild ones!