Ever since I started my Bullet Journal, I got seriously interested in time management and how to increase productivity. I’ve been reading a lot about this subject, and learned tons of new techniques, and more importantly, it helped me to understand why I had so many problems before.
The one great villain? Multitasking! What a twist! See, my brain usually jumps from one thing to another (yes, I’m THAT kind of person!), and even though it was stressful at times, I always had the feeling I was actually achieving so much, in a very short period of time. Oh, how wrong I was!
Looking back, I can clearly see the evils of multitasking and how much it ended up costing me. So I’m here to share my experience with all of you, and hopefully this will convince you to not go down that road. Here are 5 reasons why multitasking is bad for your productivity and life in general! And don’t worry, I will also be sharing some advice on how to avoid these same mistakes.
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The Feeling Of Achievement Is A Trap
You know it’s one of those days. You have like, 10 things to do today and only one afternoon to do them. So you try to complete your report while you have on the background your phone playing the TV show you want to catch up with, all while half-studying your Chinese lesson of the day. So, at the end of the day, you end up with this feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. Well let me tell you; it’s a LIE. You just tricked your brain into feeling that way.
If you actually think about it, you haven’t completed all your assignments, or even worse, you haven’t completed them as good as you could (but you think you did!). You just spent lots of energy, but your productivity was minimum. Being busy doesn’t mean being productive! I’ve been falling for this for the longest time, and I’m so happy I’m finally getting out of there. Easy tip – after a day of work evaluate what are the exact results. If lots of things were started but nothing was completed – you need to spend the next day doing things differently! Double check your report. See if you remember the lesson you half studied. Try to remember the minor details of the episode you watched.
Multitasking Kills Your Productivity
If you’re one of those stuck in what i just mentioned before, you’d be surprised to learn that this kind of rhythm actually decreases your productivity, as much as 40%! Just let that sink in. Basically if you stop multitasking, you can do things almost twice as fast as you do them now. Keep thinking of this rate next time you’re tempted to fall back to old habits.
Multitasking Decreases Your Work Quality
Studies suggest that most people can only attend one cognitive task at the time. So much so that multitasking is in fact task hopping. That means that if you don’t give your full attention to one thing, you’re likely to make more mistakes. It’s so obvious isn’t it? Multitasking leads you to commit more errors, which in the end you’ll have to fix – so it doesn’t only decrease your productivity, but also forces you to spend more time on completing tasks.
Multitasking Increases Your Stress Level
This is the first thing I noticed about multitasking – it brings loads of extra stress! And if you think about it it’s very easy to see why. First, you’re always busy and doing things, but everything seems to take so long to get finished. You make more mistakes, forget important details for projects, things like that. All this creates a feeling that there’s too much to do, that your obligations are overwhelming you, that you won’t make it on time and all that makes you feel overworked. So just think about it – is this stress really something you need in your life?
Multitasking Makes You Miss Out On Life
On a final note – This is one of the harshest drawbacks of multitasking I’ve experienced. And it actually is the one you notice the least. The perfect example of this is a study of one Dr. Hyman from Western Washington University. On a popular campus square the researchers had a clown riding around on a bicycle. A CLOWN on a BICYCLE! And what do you know – 75% of multitasking people (walking + talking on cellphone) didn’t notice him until he was pointed out to them. Ok this was a clown, and I personally wouldn’t be too sad missing out on that (anyone else finds clowns super creepy?). But this is a great example – think what other great things you might’ve missed in life! And never even knew about it!
Now that I’ve shown you how horrible multitasking is, I’m here to share some tips on what to do instead and how Bullet Journal can help you out!
Ok. So, you know how they always say accepting the problem is the first step to solving it? Well, it works here too. The thing is, the feeling of constant activity that multitasking gives you is VERY addictive, and most people are unlikely to stop it. Unless of course, they realize how harmful multitasking is for productivity (which I already helped you to do! HA!). And this is the catch – as long as you admit this is a problem and you want to solve it, you can start enforcing a new behavior in yourself.
Make A Task List And Plan Your Day
It took me 5 points against multitasking and 2 tips to combat it to start talking about Bullet Journaling. For all those of you who come to this blog for Bullet Journal tips, first of all sorry, and thank you for reading so far! But yes, this is definitely the work for your Bullet Journal. Knowing all the tasks you have will help you to get a better day schedule. And having the day plan is the first step towards not doing everything together, but step by step.
Prioritize and complete most important tasks first
Now that you’ve planned your day and know what has to be done – follow the next step and prioritize. Completing the main goals first will make sure your day is productive and takes away pressure and guilt (maybe? I totally have that) while completing less important trivial tasks. Plus starting your day with completion of the important tasks will give you an energy boost to go through the day on a better note.
Get used to “batching”
Basically, Batching is the art of grouping tasks and assigning them a time slot, to prevent them from interrupting other activities during your day. The best example I can give you for this here is social media – people usually check social media so often, that it basically turns any other activity into multitasking. I know, I know, getting over social media addiction is a WHOLE different topic, and a much more difficult one to tackle. Lots of people rely heavily on one or two of these platforms, whether it’s Instagram or Facebook or Twitter, even for their livelihoods. Let’s not talk about that for now, but instead, let’s focus on the minor apps you casually check when you are bored or tired of doing a task.
A great way to deal with them is to create a routine and check it all at once but at certain time. As an example, I sort of forget about social media during the day and then spend half an hour in the afternoon just checking emails, Facebook, Instagram and other notifications and then forget about them. This really frees my brain from thinking about it all the time. As for help from Bullet Journal – I love to write down my routines like this. It helps me to remember to follow them, as well as motivates me to do so! The best help is a habit tracker (which here I guess is better called routine tracker). As a result, it increases your productivity and creativity, while decreasing fatigue, procrastination, and stress.
Use concentrated time to complete your tasks
I figured that it’s actually harder than it seems to stop multitasking – there are so many things distracting us! So something I offer you to try is to use concentrated time. Start small – maybe an hour or even half an hour. And do this – turn off all the things you don’t need, no email or social media. And just spend this time completing this one task. It’s a bit hard to do at the beginning, at least it was for me. But once you get a hold of it the results are amazing – work is done fast and with superior quality.
So there you have it. I must say a lot of these things are something I never thought of. So I hope all this information will help you out of the black hole of multitasking!
A disclaimer – I still do multitask sometimes, the habit is strong and if I don’t think about it I most likely end up doing it.
What about you? Do you multitask a lot? What are your productivity struggles? Looking forward to hearing from you in the comments section below.
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