Time Management–Multitasking Is Losing 17+ Weeks of Your Year

 To Multitask or not to multitask is the question. Learn to stop multitasking and gain anywhere from 1/3rd of your whole year to 1/2 of your year. Gain 17-26 weeks, or 2 to 4 hours a day.

The busier I get the less it seems I get done. Does that happen to you?

We’ve been taught, or at least somewhere along the line we’ve come to the conclusion that we’ve got to learn to multitask and that is what has cost us LOTS of timeMaybe it’s because of computers that we believe that if we are doing several things at once that we are more efficient, and getting more done. We believe that there are dead spots between projects, so we fill the dead spots with something else, or just plain jump from here to there and back. Or sometimes, put two tasks together that use the same tools, or something similar.

Lord Chesterfield, clear back in the 1740’s new not to multitask, but somehow we’ve continued trying to do more and more.

There is time enough for everything in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once, but there is not time enough in the year, if you will do two things at a time.

– Lord Chesterfield, in a letter to his son, c. 1740

Here’s an exercise I did with a mastermind group I was working with this past week. It’s eye opening. Try this yourself, you’ll see what I mean

Exercise #1– Multitasking ————————————-.

We are going to write the phrase

“”to multitask or not to multitask.”

We are going to multitask when we write this first time. Every time you write one letter, number that letter. It’ll look something like this.

T1 O2 M3 U4 L5 T6 etc.

Time yourself.

How long does it take you to write the whole phrase while numbering the letters You are multitasking, switching back and forth between writing the text, and numbering the text.

How long does it take you to do it that way?

I’ve seen it take anywhere from 45 seconds (seriously someone did it that fast! If you’ve done it already you know how hard it is to do it that fast) and a couple of minutes. I don’t know about you but I was one of those that took approximately 2 minutes. I just couldn’t get my brain wrapped around coming back to those letters and finding where I was in that stream.

RESULTS — 45 seconds to 2 minutes while multitasking.

Exercise #2 without Multitasking———————–

Now, let’s do the same thing, but this time we’ll write the text of the phrase first, and THEN write out the numbers while counting the letters. We’re still doing exactly the same amount of work, but no longer multitasking, we are switching from one job to the other, doing them sequentially, one behind the other.

This time it might look more like this

“to multitask or not to multitask”
“1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27″

How long did that take you?

In our mastermind group  it ranged from 30 seconds (that same guy that was first in the last exercise) to about a minute (also this time the slowest person was the slowest in both exercises). Actually in this case I was down to the 30 seconds from almost 2 minutes so it was a drastic change for me, and most of the others.

RESULTS 30 seconds to 1 minute, 30% to 50% less time.

Is there something to learn here?

Looking at the fastest time in both approaches, 45 seconds when multi tasking to 30 seconds when doing them sequentially, resulted in cutting out 15 seconds from the 45 seconds it originally took, or cutting out 1/3rd of the time, 33%.

Looking at the longest times, 2 minutes when multitasking, and 1 minute when doing it sequentially, a reduction of 50%.  Or, frankly, if you used me as the example, I came from almost 2 minutes down to 30 seconds. For me that was cutting out 75% of that 2 minutes, cutting it down to 25%. That’s a HUGE change in efficiency.

How to Cut Out 2-4 Hours Out of Your Day . . . or 17 WEEKS Out of Your Year

Now what would happen if you could cut 33% to 50% off of your day by eliminating where ever you multitask?

Think about that. That’s cutting out 2 1/2 to 4 hours a day, or 12 to 20 hours a week, 17 to 26 weeks out of a year.

Holy Smokes Batman! We just gained another 17 to 26 weeks from our work year. What could we do with that?

Either get more done, take a vacation for 1/2 a year, or to do what we want to do with it.

Just think, if you can be as successful as you are now and still take 26 weeks of vacation, WOW!. Or, by getting twice as much done we could possibly make 2 times the income we made last year and with a lot less effort. Or, we can increase our income while having more vacation time with the family.

What could you do with that much time?

Would you enjoy life a lot more, spend time with kids, family, loved ones; or would you just get a LOT more done, you’d have almost twice as much time to get nearly everything done. In fact, at 50% time savings, you could  double your income or spend ½ your time with the kids, your wife, and playing a lot more.  

What causes you to multitask your day?

You are working on your project, and the phone rings. It distracts you from what you were doing. It’s like when you were writing those letters (“the myth of multitasking”) and have to switch your thought to numbering, and then having to come back to letters and figure out where you were before you could write the next letter. That was really hard for me to do. Every time I came back from numbering that last leter I had to hesitate to rediscover what the next letter was supposed to be. I even tried writing the whole phrase out in front of me to make it easier, but I still couldn’t get the brain wrapped around where I was coming back to. It world take me several seconds to refocus before I could started again.

There was a study that say that, in an average work day an average worker is interrupted every 11 minutes by someone walking in his office, the phone ringing, or some other interruption.

What’s interesting is that Microsoft did an analysis of its programmers and said that every time a programmer is interrupted it takes at least 15 minutes for him to get back into his project and back up to speed. Think about that. If they get interrupted every 11 minutes and it takes 15 minutes to get back up to speed, they NEVER get back up to speed, because they will get the next interruption in 11 minutes and they’ve still got another 4 minutes to go before they get there.

Is that how your day goes?

How can we make our day more efficient? Schedule your day; allow NO interruptions short of a catastrophe. Tell everyone that you have scheduled this hour or two to get some work done and you WILL NOT allow any interruptions. Then schedule a time slot where you will set time aside to meet with people that need you, and another time slot where you’ll schedule the returning of the telephone calls that have come in during your “leave me alone time.”

You will come pretty close to doubling the output of your work week.

Another thing that happens to me is that when I’m working at full speed, or when I’m just plain jumping from fire fight to fire fight, is that I take no time to plan or prioritize. I find that I’m “working on activities” and not as concerned whether those activities deliver measuring results. My goals slip. I do seem to be BUSY, VERY BUSY, but I get a LOT LESS done. Results go out the window, and so does my overall strategies. Nothing seems to align with where I wanted to go.

So, set down now and schedule your work week, prioritize it according to the importance of that activity delivering on your overall strategy and the priorities within that strategy.

At the beginning of the week plan what you will COMPLETE, measurable results, for each day of the week. Prioritize those activities and measurable outcomes so that they come together for that bigger strategy. Make the whole week come together into a big result.

Then check back here next week, and tell me what you got accomplished, what measurable results you knocked down this week.

Schedule one thing at a time and get ‘er done before moving to the next.

The $100K Coach

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