How to be x 3 more productive

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One of the qualities that is most often listed on CVs is “great at multitasking”.

We usually think (especially ladies) that we can do quite a few things at the same time. Simultaneously.

When I was looking for yet another, better productivity approach, I came across a great book by Jeff Sutherland “SCRUM - The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time”.

When the author stated that multitasking in fact slows down our productivity, I didn’t quite believe it and felt that maybe others can’t multitask but I am pretty special and great at it.

The next thing I read (paraphrasing): “yes, you think you are special and can do two or more things at the same time. But you can’t. Nobody can”

It has now been scientifically proven that our brain can not do two (or more) things at the same time.

“I drive and talk on my mobile all the time!” - you might disagree. The reality is - we don’t do these two things at the same time. Our brain switches from one task to another. And it also takes some time to adjust and get “back in the flow” with the task at hand.

Have you noticed that if you work on several projects at the same time, they move very slowly? If you are still not convinced, below is a table from the book that made me an advocate for “singletasking”.

Have a look at how much productivity you are missing out on if you work on 5 projects at the same time. You can see the percent of time available per project and the loss due to switching from task to task. I hope that you now consider that maybe multitasking is not such a great thing to do.

 
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So here is your task for the next week. You will need to write down all the tasks you do during the day and the time every time you switch between tasks. For example: at 8am you started by checking your emails. At 8.15am - a notification from Instagram came through and you decided to check what’s happening. At 8.30am - back to emails. 8.50am - your colleague came around / friend called to ask what you think about that plan you discussed yesterday etc.

It could be a bit overwhelming to write everything down at first, but you will get the hang of it. I used my paper notebook and wrote down everything. The second time I did it, I had a print out with the hour by hour spaces. If you prefer this - here is a Time Tracker Template for you to print out (no sign up required, just click on the link)

 
 

Once you’ve done it for two weeks (or at least stick with one, weekends as well, especially if you do some work at the weekends) - take different color highlighters or pencils and do a bit of coloring. Choose a different color for each different activity. Like: admin, emails, social media, making calls to clients/crew, meetings etc. This will give you an idea about how often you switch between tasks. Figure out how you can combine the same tasks into one time slot so you would do more, faster.

It’s a very simple yet powerful exercise. Give it a go.