The Effects of Multitasking and Its Effects on Your Business
Like any busy individual, business owners are faced with multiple issues that require attention on any given day. And because we only have so many hours to spend working, we sometimes find ourselves forced to repeatedly multitask to address everything that arrives at our table.
Productivity experts in the past would hail multitasking as an important skill set that will help everyone tick off as many boxes as possible on that long to-do list we contend with on any given day. However, a growing number of studies have steadily shown that not only is multitasking an inefficient way of fulfilling our daily to-do list, it is also hurting our ability to be productive in the long run.
As business owners, we need to be wary when something hurts our productivity because this affects our ability to grow and develop our business.
Why is multitasking is bad for you?
There are three reasons why multitasking is bad for you.
- Multitasking weakens your brain power.
“One study at the University of London revealed that subjects who multitasked while performing brain-intensive tasks demonstrated IQ drops similar to people who are sleep-deprived or smoke marijuana.”
“Another study from the University of Sussex in the UK indicates that forms of multitasking can cause cognitive damage.”
What these studies reveal is that we severely overestimate our brain’s ability to process information and tasks. Our brains are made to focus on single tasks or issues at any given time. Trying to do two or three things at a time is not only inefficient, but it also pushes the brain to make mistakes.
- It increases your stress.
“Studies link multitasking to increased cortisol production, a stress hormone that leaves us feeling tired when we need energy to concentrate.”
Do not allow stress to build up in your day, and do not cause your own stress. Remember that you are an important asset in your business. Anything that affects your well-being affects your business, too.
- Lastly, it affects productivity and creativity.
“A study by Microsoft found that it took people an average of 15 minutes to return to their ‘important projects’ every time they were interrupted by emails, phone calls or messages. That isn’t even that they spend 15 minutes on the interruption, but that these interruptions led them to stray to other activities, such as surfing the web or looking at social media.”
How does multitasking negatively affect your business?
What does it mean for your business? It creates more problems than it provides solutions. It puts undue pressure on some of the most important assets to your business: yourself and your staff. It creates more stress than it alleviates. And workplace stress not only impedes growth, but it also affects the bottom line or the profitability of your business.
If it’s so bad, why do we still do it?
We do it because we’re human. It creates the impression that we are doing more. It’s easy to fall into multi-tasking mode when you need to do more than one thing.
And because we can and choose to do so.
What should you do instead?
Instead of multi-tasking, focus on single tasks or issues. Focus is key to effective time management and workplace well being. Focus is key to making better decisions and, ultimately, to business growth and development.
- Schedule your tasks and plan for distractions.
Identify what you need to do and what needs your focus on a daily basis. Make sure to schedule the most important of things first.
Next, plan your day to include “distractions.” One example of a distraction is answering emails. Make time blocks for reading and answering emails. It isn’t productive to answer them as you receive them.
And if you find yourself distracted by different issues on any single day, try to delegate these issues and tasks to other people. You do not need to address every single issue in your business. You need to focus on the ones that matter the most—the ones that impact your business and affect its growth.
- Be selfish with your time and focus.
There’s a growing philosophy that we only ever do 5 hours worth of work on a regular 8-hour day. Stephan Aarstol, co-founder and CEO of Tower Paddle Boards, and author of The Five-Hour Workday cut his employees’ workday to just five hours but the expected the same level of productivity from them.
This placed pressure on the staff to perform and not to waste their time on unnecessary distractions. It forced everyone to learn how to be focused and productive. Focus on producing results made everyone in the company more productive.
From an employee’s perspective, if you come in at 9 in the morning and expect to leave work at 2 pm, that is an incentive for you to put in everything that you can do within those hours. It’s a give an take situation—if you incentivise your employees to be more productive, they will be more productive within that given period.
We all have the same number of hours in any given day as the most successful entrepreneurs in this world. The difference is in how successful entrepreneurs use these hours to focus on the issues and tasks that matter.
- Nurture a culture of focus and lead by example.
As a business owner, you stand as the leader of your business. To nurture a culture of focus, it needs to begin from the top and performed daily to form a habit.
If you want your staff to focus, then you need to show them how to do it.
If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.