Is Multi-Tasking Taxing Your Brain?

August 19, 2011

How many of us pride ourselves in our supreme multi-tasking skills, simultaneously working on a document, texting, researching the Internet, posting to Facebook, tweeting, all while the news is on TV, construction is going on outside, and enticing aromas are wafting from the kitchen? Phew… just re-reading this makes me dizzy.

Beyond the external environmental stimuli, we are constantly being assailed with information from the technology now available to us. It’s no wonder that even with our best resolutions to put in a full, productive day of work, we often find ourselves gaping at why so little actually got done!

Simply put, these are distractions, and they can be enemy #1 for your business. Learning how to deal with them is paramount to not only increase your productivity in less time, but also boost your ability to generate original thought and cultivate creativity. Getting things done also builds momentum and enthusiasm, driving us forward to produce more.





So how do we stay focused and limit distractions?

–       Turn your ringer off and let phone calls go to voicemail. Schedule a specific time, like lunchtime, to listen to all of your messages and return calls.

–       Similarly for e-mail, turn off the incoming e-mail notification sound and leave it alone until a particular time of the day when you can read and address all the messages in your inbox.

–       When entering into your productivity zone, turn your IM status to “busy” so that your IM buddies don’t suddenly interrupt your train of thought.

–       Keep your desk tidy and avoid wasting time shuffling through piles of paper.

–       Work at non-peak times. Do the work that needs the most concentration early in the morning, or at times when all is quiet and you are less likely to be interrupted.

–       Take regularly scheduled breaks to step away from your computer and your workspace. Group your distractions for handling during that break time.

–       Understand your personal distractions and isolate yourself as much as possible from them. If it’s outside noise, turn on a fan as white noise to drown it out, or close the windows. Pull down the blinds to shut out outside movement, which may draw your attention. Remove any tempting snacks that may call to you.

If your work requires you to always be online and constantly connected to co-workers and clients, the article “How To Deal with Distractions in a Web Workers World”  provides some helpful productivity tools to stay on task.

So now the sun has risen, the kids are getting up, and my stomach is growling. Let me wrap this up quickly so that I can take a break and handle the arising “distractions”, and you, dear reader, can get back to work.

We would love to know of additional ways of dealing with distractions and staying focused. Please share with us any other ideas.



Leave a Reply