6

5 warning signs that tell you are taking productivity too seriously

too many tasksFor me productivity is one element of success. In order to achieve your intentions you have to put some hours in and work on your goals. Reaching your goals cannot be done by procrastinating.

However, let’s take a look at the other side of the coin too. Sometimes you can take your productive efforts too far and productivity starts to affect your life in several negative ways.

Avoiding communicating with others

This happens when you have scheduled your timetable to be too tight. When someone comes to talk to you (communicate with you by other ways), you either avoid the situation or you try to do everything to keep the conversation short.

I have experienced this myself when I go to gym. I have a very tight and fast-paced work-out schedule that I want to follow to the minute. Also, the more time I spend at the gym, the later I get to work and later I can leave the office.

Because of this chain reaction, I have tried to keep the conversations with others at gym very short. Sometimes I have tried to avoid the conversations in the first place. Other times, I have wanted to say something to an acquaintance of mine, but because my workout is very intense in nature, I have kept the conversations to minimum for not losing time.

When I realized this bad habit, I have eased my attitude towards my workout schedule a bit. In fact, I don’t mind having a chat with an acquaintance, unless the conversation is really going to affect too much my other schedules.

Inflexible timetables

When you plan your day, you put too many tasks on your task list. Then, when there is even a smallest unplanned change in your schedule, your “deck of cards” collapses. You have designed your daily task list to be too tight.

This in turn causes you to get stressed, frustrated and angry. At the end of the day you may have a feeling of inferiority, because you weren’t able to accomplish all your tasks.

At times, I still fall into the trap of overstuffing my task list. However, as soon as I started to focus on just completing the most important tasks and taking care of the rest after that, I have been able to make my schedules more reasonable.

For example, I tend to do most of my important tasks (building my online business, working out …) before going to work. This way I’m not affected too much if my afternoon schedule changes for some reason. In fact, check out this video where I talk about this topic a little bit more.

You are stressed out

One obvious symptom of overstuffing your task list, having too rigid timetables and not being able achieve what you have planned, is stress and overwhelm. You may feel that you are doing so much – yet you feel inadequate.

When these symptoms occur, it is time to take a breather and see if all your busyness and stress is worth it.

You might want to ask yourself these following questions:

  • If you have defined your goals, are all these tasks you are doing related to those goals?

If the answer is no, do you know why this is so? Is there something that you could just stop doing? Could you start putting more weight on the tasks which are goals-related?

  •  Are you unable to say “no” to other people’s requests? 

Are you trying to please everyone by saying “yes”? One way I have dealt with this issue is to be selfish. If I already have a tight schedule, I also let the requestor know about this.

Also, if the person asking you has a right to ask you something in the first place, you have the similar right to say no.

  •  Are you putting too tight deadlines for yourself and then you put yourself down for not finishing things in time?

This comes down to question number one: is there anything that could be left out? Stop doing everything that is not necessary to do. Re-plan your schedule: less is more.

Get reasonable with your deadlines. If you weren’t able to make it, evaluate the reasons and adjust your schedules.

  •  Are you prioritizing your tasks?

How well do you prioritize your tasks? Would it be possible to schedule the important tasks as first things of the day? Do you prioritize your daily task list at all?

Lack of general well-being

At times when I have had too much to do or if I have put too much stuff on my task list, I have had sleep problems. It’s like I’m on overdrive, pondering my tasks too much in advance.

If I’m unable to get any sleep, I feel tired the next day and I’m unable to perform with my 100% capacity. Also, I have had headaches because of too little sleep.

Lack of sleep causes other issues too. There have been numerous studies of different health-related issues that the insufficient amount of sleep causes.

In general, when you have too much on your plate, you may feel stressed, tired and even reluctant to do any of those tasks on your list.

If this is the case, it is time to re-evaluate your task list and cut down all the extra commitments.

Define daily hours when you work (for example, mine is 05.30 AM – 07.30 AM and 8.00 PM – 9.00 PM) and make sure that you are getting enough sleep (during the night + powernaps).

Just working – without any breaks

Do you just work on your tasks without any downtime? Do you feel stressed out and lack of any new ideas because of this? Do you feel tired because of pushing too hard?  If it is so, it is time to set regular breaks to you schedule.

First of all, you should start to putting mini-breaks to your working sessions. In my situation, I’m working in 45 minute chunks and then have a quick 5 minute break between the sessions.

On Sundays, I try to do something else that work related stuff. I want to make sure that I have at least one of these kinds of days per week. In fact, I want to do something else than just sit on my computer.

It’s about balancing your life in a way that other important areas can be included too, like family, hobbies and personal growth.

It is utmost important to have regular breaks in your schedule, because they improve your well-being and productivity. Otherwise you might just burned out.

Taking some time off has a nice way to boost your creativity too. At least I have noticed that I have plenty of new ideas popping into my head when I’m not working all the time.

Conclusion

Healthy productivity is something where you get work done, but at the same time your life is in balance and enjoyable. It is not trying to figure out how to do more and more – instead how to do more with less effort.

Productivity should be a good thing and you should be proud of yourself for getting things done. However, if you are feeling stressed out, it is time to re-evaluate your working habits and do some re-planning on your task list.

Your next tasks:

1. Put this blog post into action!

  • Design your timetable in a way that it is flexible enough – don’t just put a task after each other (see this video for more info)
  • Remember to have enough sleep. Also, take power naps if needed
  • Have decent breaks when you work: 5-10 minutes between each session. Get up, drink some water, get some fresh air …
  • Define your daily working schedules and communicate them to your family or friends

2. Share your experiences and tips on the comment area:

  • Have you ever felt being too productive?
  • What are your tips on balancing your work with the other areas in your life?

3. Spread the word:

I would appreciate it if you share this post on Twitter or on Facebook.

6

How to deal with everyday tasks in an organized way [infographic]

Prioritize tasks - those everyday onesOne of the key lessons of time management is prioritizing your tasks. The suggested way is to work on your most important tasks first.

Executing these tasks takes you closer to your goals and obviously they should be prioritized to the top of your task list.

However, there are also tasks that you have to do, but which are not related to your goals, thus their importance level is not that high.

These tasks are called everyday tasks and they include for example cleaning your home, mowing the lawn, fixing your bicycle, mailing a letter to your relative, buying a gift for your god son for his birthday, replacing the light bulbs in your kitchen etc.).

Although these kinds of tasks are not on the top of anyone’s task list, they still have to be done at some point. The question goes, when and how do you take care of them? Is it right now, at the end of the day, later next week or some other time?

Ask these two questions first to define the order

a)      Does it affect the quality of your life someway?

One way to figure out the prioritization of these kinds of tasks is to understand if they affect the quality of your life in some way.

For example, if all of a sudden the lights went out in your kitchen, it is very difficult for you to cook and make dinner for yourself or for your family. It is obvious, that you have to fix the problem.

Although this task is not directly related to your goals, it is related to your family’s well-being at some level. You can probably still cook in the kitchen but the shared moments in the kitchen (eating together) are disturbed because of this annoyance.

When to execute this kind of task:

If the task has major effects on the quality of your life, take care of it right now. If the task is not that urgent, it can wait a bit and it can be scheduled for later execution (but not too long in the future).

Things that have major effects on the quality of your life:

  • Electricity went out in your home
  • Your car is broken and you have to go to work the next day (your job is 20 kilometers/2 miles away from your home)
  • You’ve burnt the food on the stove and you have to ventilate your home

Things that have a minor effect on the quality of your life:

  • Lights went off in your living room – you have to fix the fuse
  • The outdoor of your home is keeping creaky sound when you open it or close it – you need to oil the pivots
  • You bicycle tires have low on air pressure – you have to pump in some air

If the task has major effects on the quality of your life, take care of it right now. If the task is not that urgent, it can wait a bit and it can be scheduled for later execution (but not too long in the future).

b)      Is it a task with a deadline?

Another question to ask yourself is, if this is a task with a deadline?

In many cases, even in those less-important tasks there is a built-in deadline too. For example, if you have a bill to pay, it has a due date and the bill has to be handled in a timely manner to avoid additional penalties.

This was an example of a hard deadline. The date is “set in stone” and there isn’t really much to do about it. Just take care of the task before the due date and everything is going to be fine.

Another type of deadline is included in a task like taking care of your garage’s organization. There isn’t any exact date to get it done – still you want to get the task done at some point, like before the summer ends.

Whether it is organizing your garage, cleaning your home or going to the grocery store, these tasks do not have a clear deadline. Yet they are objectives on your task list and they are taken care of – sooner or later.

In these situations, a soft deadline is applied. You know that you want to get this task done at some point, but there are not penalties or such involved (because there is no due date).

When to execute this kind of task:

In my opinion, a task – whether it is more or less strict with its deadlines – should be taken care of as soon as possible.

However, I understand that it is not always possible to do that and you have to figure out the best schedule depending on your situation.

I have kept the following as a guideline: If the task has a hard deadline (for example paying a bill), I tend to take care of it the same day if possible. If the task has a soft deadline, I set a schedule for it for later execution.

Things that have a hard deadline on them:

  • Paying your bills
  • Paying the taxes

Things that have a soft deadline on them:

  • Organizing your garage – before the summer ends
  • Cleaning your home
  • Going to the grocery store to buy more food

If the task has a hard deadline (for example paying a bill), I tend to take care of it the same day if possible. If the task has a soft deadline, I set a schedule for it for later execution.

Additional tips for executing everyday tasks

1.       Make a list

If you have plenty of tasks to do, it helps to write down a list. It is easier for you to see all the different tasks at glance and perhaps define the order, date or if multiple tasks can be handled at once – by batching.

The tracking of executed tasks becomes easier, because you can cross the task off your list once it’s done.

2.       Schedule them

One very important way of handling everyday tasks is to schedule them. Obviously, if the task requires your immediate attention, then you have to deal with it right away. Otherwise, schedule this task for later execution (same day at certain time or a certain date in the future).

3.       Do tasks in batches

Whatever the task type may be (important, less important) it helps to get the similar ones done in batches.

You get more things done this way and the less you have to worry about the number of tasks on your list.

4.       Try to do them outside your defined time blocks

To work towards your goals, you need to have a schedule to follow. This kind of schedule is created by blocking out some hours off your calendar (on a daily basis). During these hours you work only on your most important tasks – and nothing else.

However, when an everyday task comes up and it has to be handled, try to get these kinds of tasks done outside your defined time blocks.

For example, I have blocked out certain hours of the day for building my online business and I don’t want to do anything else – just those tasks that are related to this activity.

Don’t let the everyday tasks interrupt your dedicated time blocks.

5.       Delegate or outsource them

Finally, consider outsourcing your everyday tasks if possible. Even if it costs some money, the time saving benefits are worth it.

For example, me and my wife hired a windows washer for our home last spring. Even if it cost us money (and we could have done the task by ourselves), it saved lots of our time and energy.

prioritising tasks

Conclusion

There are tasks in our everyday life, which require our attention. Although executing them wont take us closer to our goals, these tasks have to be taken care of at some point.

I hope that this post was able to give you some ideas on how to prioritize and execute non-goal related tasks the efficient way.

It’s your turn now!

  • How do you handle everyday tasks – discussed in this post?
  • What additional tips do you have for efficiently handling everyday tasks?

Also do this:

I would appreciate it if you share this post on Twitter or on Facebook.

6

10 Types of Cubicle Distraction and How To Deal With Them – Part 2

Increasing workplace productivityThis is a blog post series, where I discuss how to deal with cubicle distraction (see the part 1 here).

In this second (and final) part of the series, I’m going to reveal five other types of office distraction and how to deal with them.

 

Please note: even if these tips are about cubicle distraction, you may apply them to your home office environment as well.

Take these tips and apply them to your situation however you see them fit.

#6 Emails

The amount of email has exploded over the last few years. The problem with e-mail is that even if it’s an important tool related to our work, it is also a major distraction.

If you handle your incoming e-mails the wrong way, you are letting every new message to distract you away from your current task and things get out of control – you are not getting any important work done.

It’s like you are not “driving the car” anymore, you are just a passenger watching the car to be driven by someone else. Once you decide to hop on to the driver’s seat, situation changes for the better and you are the driver again – controlling the distractions instead.

Solutions:

a) Stop reacting to every single e-mail as soon as they arrive – dedicate some time blocks for managing your e-mail. For example one session during the morning hours and another one in the afternoon.

b) Set an auto responder message telling when you are reading your e-mails. Most people expect you to react to e-mails instantly, but communicating them about the way you process your e-mail, helps them to understand if you are not getting back to them as soon as possible.

c) You do not need to know when a new e-mail arrives to your inbox – turn off the notifications (sound, pop-up windows etc)

d) If you have subscribed to various mailing lists, evaluate them critically, if you really need to subscribe them. If not, unsubscribe!

e) Define rules for certain types of e-mails, so that they are being handled automatically. For example, if you are getting e-mail alerts, sent automatically by your backup software when the back up completed, you may not need to know that information every time. Instead, mark and archive the messages automatically for later viewing.

If you are using Gmail, you can use filters to do this. In Outlook, you define Rules to handle messages like this.

Obviously these solutions (especially from A to C) may not be viable to you, if you are required to read and react to e-mails instantly, mentioned in your job description.

#7 Meetings

Meetings have a noble meaning of discussing and deciding on important issues, to communicate with other project members and move forward your projects and project tasks.

Unfortunately, this world is not perfect and the amount of meetings has increased tremendously over the last few years (well, at least I have noticed so…)

However, meetings become a distraction to you, when you are not getting your work done and your time is spent discussing on matters that do not make any real difference to you.

They become a major distraction too, when you are required to deliver work within a deadline, but at the same time you should be part of a meeting, which gives you little value back (or not value at all).

Solutions:

a) Start questioning the purpose of the meeting – is it needed in the first place

b) If it is needed, ask what is your role in it

c) If you have a deadline coming and yet you are asked to participate to a meeting, tell the meeting organizer to be excused from this gathering. Say that you have an important deadline coming and you are not able to participate this time.

d) Try to have the meeting in virtual form. Ask the meeting organizer if it’s possible to participate remotely, if you are asked to join the meeting physically.

e) If you have to participate physically (or even virtually) and you have to give a presentation, ask the meeting organizer that you would like to have your presentation first on the agenda. Also, ask the organizer if it is possible to be excused after that – if your attendance is not needed for the rest of the meeting.

Try to have as many meetings as possible in virtual form. This saves you from travelling. 

#8 Web

Web is important part of almost any business nowadays. However, it can become a major distraction to you, if you don’t have clear rules on how to use it.

It is very compelling to browse from one interesting page to another, only to realize that you have lost many valuable moments because of aimless surfing and you are not getting your real work done.

Solutions:

a) Set the moments/hours when you browse your favorite site(s). Make it as a reward, when you have completed an important task

b) Block the web entirely for times when you work. Use software like Freedom (both for Mac and PC)  to do this (NOTE: I haven’t tested this software myself, this was just an example)

After completing a task, reward yourself by checking a blog or other web site you love.

#9 Your level of rest

If you don’t have enough rest, you will have major difficulties of focusing. You are much more exposed to distractions when you are tired than with proper rest.

Solutions:

a) Check your sleeping times – when do you go to bed, when do you wake up? Are you just sleeping not enough less and that is causing you to be tired? If this is so, fix your sleeping times accordingly.

b) Take naps. Napping and especially power napping is a great way of restarting your afternoon. When you powernap, you take a nap which is 20 minutes long maximum.

Power naps are very effective way or recharging your batteries.

#10 Your level of enthusiasm

One thing that gets rarely mentioned but which is very important when it comes to handling distractions is your level of enthusiasm towards your work.

If you couldn’t care less about your job, then all the possible distractions are going to get to you. In that case it is time for thorough evaluation of what you want your job description to be and what you really want to do.

Otherwise, no matter what tips I provide here, they are much more difficult to apply in your situation.

Solutions:

a) Take a look at your current job description and what you want – are they in sync? Are you distracted because you don’t find the job compelling?

b) Move to another position inside your company if possible

c) If you really feel that there is absolutely no way you can work in your day job (because your passion and enthusiasm towards it has died) and there are no positions in other departments inside your company, have you considered of starting a business of your own?

Are you distracted because you don’t find your job compelling enough?

Conclusion

This was the final part of the series related to office distraction. Although this series was written towards people working in cubicles, this information (at least part of it) can be applied to home office environments too.

As you can see, there are many types of distractions when working in an office environment. However, you can now start tackling these distractions one-by-one – to make your environment a more quiet place to work at and get more stuff done.

It’s your turn now!

  • Are there any other types of distraction you are exposed to, than the ones mentioned on parts 1 and 2?
  • How do you handle the distraction you encounter in a cubicle environment?

Also do this:

I would appreciate it if you shared this post on Twitter or on Facebook.

3

10 Types of Cubicle Distraction and How To Deal With Them – Part 1

Increasing workplace productivityI have worked in a cubicle over 14 years. If there is anything that I have learned during these years is that if you let the distraction get you, you will

a)      procrastinate

b)      be stressed over by deadlines

c)       feel lousy about yourself.

Therefore it is extremely important to understand the different levels of office distraction and how to prevent or handle those distractions in the first place.

#1 Colleagues stopping over at you

Let’s be honest – I have great colleagues and this has never been my problem. However, I know that this kind of distraction is real for some office workers.

For example, if you own a special skill or special knowledge – like, you know all the bells and whistles of Microsoft Office – it is quite possible that you become the go-to guy in your office when a Microsoft Office related problem comes up.

Although it may be flattering that people ask your help, it is distracting as well and you are not able to focus on your real work.

Solutions:

a) Talk to your boss about this situation and tell him/her that you are not happy with what is going on. Maybe your boss could offer you a solution to this problem you are having.

For example, he/she could send an e-mail to the personnel and remind them about the IT support policy of your company – that you are not the support person to handle these cases.

b) Advice people that you shouldn’t be interrupted or that you are handing out the advice at a certain time of the day. The idea is to teach them that you shouldn’t be interrupted all the time and if that is necessary, it should happen during a certain time of the day (after you have finished your high priority tasks).

c) More extreme way would be to start working remotely from your home. This cuts down the colleagues based interruption to zero. At the same time, it also cuts down the social moments with your colleagues too, so you should be aware of the downsides of this solution.

#2 Instant messaging

Instant messaging has entered the business environments too and even if it has benefits, it can become a nuisance too.

Just when you thought you could focus on your things, someone sends you an instant message, thus stopping you from working on your own stuff.

In fact, sometimes there may be multiple chat windows popping up at the same time and everyone is asking you questions on different topics.

Solutions:

a) Turn off the instant messaging. Although this is a radical thing to do, it also ensures that you are not interrupted.

b) Update your online status accordingly. Instant messaging applications have built-in statuses you can choose from and you can update the status to something that reflects your situation. However, the “stronger” the status is, the less likely someone is going to interrupt you.

For example, setting you online status manually to something like “Do not disturb” tells people, that you shouldn’t be interrupted – you are trying to focus on your work.

#3 Phone calls

Even if the instant messaging may not be available in your workplace, phones are. In fact, there are three different phone systems that I’m aware of and they all bring their own distractions with them: regular phones (land-line), cell phones and VOIP (Voice Over IP) phones.

Solutions:

a) Traditional phones and cell phones: Set up a voice mail and let you phone calls go into that. Let your caller know that you cannot answer the phone right now and that you will call back at a later time if it is necessary

b) Cell phones: Turn your mobile phone mute when you work. In fact, sometimes I might turn the phone upside down, because I’m not interrupted by the flashing screen of the phone (in the muted scenarios when someone calls)

c) VOIP: Now, depending of your system this procedure may be different that mine, but since the VOIP system I’m using is integrated to instant messaging application, I can control the status of my online presence and set the status to “Do not disturb” state.

This blocks the incoming call pretty effectively and when I’m ready to take calls again, I just set the status of my presence to “Online”.

#4 Overall noise

This is the most annoying part of any open office environment: the overall distraction. This can be caused by colleagues, fax machines, telephones or anything between.

Unfortunately, for the most parts this kind of distraction goes beyond your control (you can’t schedule it). However, there is still something you can do about it.

Solutions:

a) Book a meeting room. I have done this several times and it works. All the extra distraction is left outside the room and you can focus on your work.

b) Tell your colleagues to quiet down. Now, the important way here is how you say it. If you yell at them to shut up with a red face, you may be quieting them down. However, it may do more harm to your relationship with them than any good, so pay close attention to how you express yourself.

c) This is a bit counter-intuitive, but sometimes some distraction can actually help you to focus on your work. For example, listening to music is one of these ways and you are able to leave the distraction outside your headphones.

#5 Coffee breaks

Let’s face it – there is a place for coffee breaks and the idea is to stop working for a while and socialize a bit with your colleagues (located in the same office than you).

This brings the social depth to your work – it is not just sitting in front of the computer and maybe to talking someone on the phone or answering e-mails.

It also gives you the time to recharge your batteries – by discussing about something which is not work related.

However, coffee breaks bring distraction with them, and I would like to break this distraction into two levels.

First, there is the level of distraction you get, when a coffee corner is next to your work space. Second distraction can be, if your breaks are too long and they are eating up your working time.

Solutions:

a) If the coffee corner happens to be next to your work space, distractions are going to occur. And, when you are distracted and cannot focus on your work, it is time to ask you colleagues to quiet down

b) If the previous doesn’t work, you should talk about this to your boss. He/she is also responsible of your work conditions, so asking some help from him/her is definitely worth doing.

c) Change your work space location. If you still feel you are distracted, you should try to find a better work space location in your office – something which is farther away from the coffee corner.

d) When you colleagues ask you to have a coffee break with them, it is always possible to reject that request. If your schedule is so busy, that you cannot have a break, then it is OK to do so. Very likely your colleagues will understand this reason, because it might happen to them too.

e) If you decide to join a coffee break, it is your responsibility to leave the coffee corner, if you have some urgent stuff waiting for you. Again, I’m willing to bet that you colleagues will understand this, since the very same situation might happen to them as well.

Conclusion

This was the part 1 of a 2 part series related to office distraction. I figured that I might bring this topic up, since there are many people out there who have an office job (even if they are part-time online business builders on the side) and they want to get stuff done in office environment too.

The second part of this series is going to be published on September 26th, so stay tuned!

It’s your turn now!

  •  Which type of distraction annoys you the most (in office environment)?
  • What tips do you have for handling these distractions I mentioned in this post?

 Also do this:

I would appreciate it if you share this post on Twitter, Google+ or on Facebook or just vote for it on various social bookmarking services. Use the buttons on the left-hand vertical bar of this post to share the article.

8

Shocking discovery: Less-known side of multitasking revealed! [infographic]

find your focus zoneIf you have been studying productivity for any period of time, you have learned that multitasking is not a way to go if you want to get things done.

When you think of it, the reasons are quite natural:

  1. Trying to get done as many tasks as possible gets you into overwhelm and stress
  2. You are not giving enough attention to all of your tasks – the quality will suffer
  3. You are finishing your multiple tasks (or projects) slower, because you are switching between tasks (or projects)

That being said, you may realize that multitasking is not a good productivity strategy – there is always a cost involved.

Four levels of multitasking

I have realized that multitasking is not just one single “thing”. Instead, there are multiple levels of multitasking and depending of the level the consequences are anything from dangerous to less dramatic.

The levels as I have experienced myself are:

  1. Never do it
  2. Not recommended
  3. OK
  4. Mindful

Please note! These levels are not based on any scientific research – they are just my observations

Never do it

In this level you should never multitask. If you do, you might endanger your own or your fellow human lives.

For example, one very common habit is to drive a car and talk to a cell phone. I avoid doing this although I have to say that I have done it myself couple of times in the past.

I have realized that I’m unable to focus on two things at once when I’m driving. And when I’m not able focus on my driving, I endanger others in the traffic. Instead, if I have to talk on the phone, I rather pull over, have my phone call and the move on.

The same goes by working with heavy machinery. Not completely focusing on your work because you are doing something else at the same time will put everyone else in danger not to mention yourself.

Not recommended

The second level of multitasking makes it a bit more acceptable, since you are not endangering others.

However, even if you are not putting others in danger, you are still doing harm to yourself in other ways.

Mainly, the problem with this kind of multitasking is that you are not present at the current situation – thus you are not getting the most out of it.

For instance, talking on the phone while surfing the web may not be dangerous, but you are not giving your full attention to the other person you are talking to. That other person may feel that what he/she has to say is not important because of this.

Another example can be taken from an online world. Working on multiple projects at once is a sure way to overwhelm yourself. Even if you are not putting others to danger, you are dramatically increasing your chances to feel stressed out and not finishing something you started, because there is too much stuff going on at the same time.

OK

The third level of multitasking is level OK. In this level, you may be multitasking but you feel quite happy doing so.

For example, grabbing up a newspaper and drinking coffee at the same time is not harmful at all.

I find this way of multitasking very relaxing – especially during the weekends when I don’t have to hurry. In fact, I feel that something is missing when I’m not having my cup of coffee to drink while reading the newspaper.

Mindful multitasking

The fourth level of multitasking is mindful multitasking and I wanted to devote  separate chapter to it.

Although this type of multitasking belongs to a group “OK”, it is still a bit different, because you do it to accomplish something else.

What is mindful multitasking?

I have realized that in certain scenarios, multitasking helps me to finish my tasks the easier way than without doing it. In fact, there is term for this type of multitasking called mindful multitasking.

This term was introduced by Lucy Jo Palladino in her great book “Find Your Focus Zone”.

In this book, she mentions mindful multitasking as a way to improve your alertness and by this way to make a tedious task easier for yourself.

For example, if I’m doing a boring data entry job, I might listen to some music to make me feel good. Or, if I have a task at my day job which I don’t like doing, I might cheer myself a bit by visiting my favorite blogs for a short moment and then come back to the original task.

Does this strategy work? Yes it does! In the ideal situation you would want to push through that tedious task without any distractions and with full focus, but sometimes I have realized that doing the mindful multitasking instead helps me to accomplish a task – thus making it easier for myself.

There is still one nuance when it comes to mindful multitasking: the word mindful itself. As Lucy states in her book, “you recognize and accept that you lose efficiency to gain alertness, but you choose it anyway because in the long run the added alertness allows you to more done.

I find that in this context there is a place to multitask. Maybe I should get rid of those boring tasks somehow in the first place, but currently this is the way I handle those – whenever I encounter them.

So, are you saying that multitasking is OK?

You may be thinking that I’m nuts when I’m advocating multitasking. However, I’m just saying that in certain specific situations multitasking may work for you.

I mentioned in the beginning that there is a cost involved when you multitask. It might be the lives of others or yours or then the cost is something less dramatic.

However, I understand that in certain scenarios multitasking has its place. Even in those situations you acknowledge there is a cost involved (for example in mindful multitasking, it is efficiency) when you decide to do it.

Conclusion

I have discovered that multitasking has several levels in it – on some level it is dangerous to multitask whereas in some levels it might be less dramatic.

Although I agree that multitasking is a bad way to increase your productivity, there might be very specific situations where I have noticed that it works.

Still, you should be aware of the cost of multitasking – even when you are doing mindful multitasking.

stop multitasking

It’s your turn now!

  • What are your thoughts on mindful multitasking?
  • In what scenarios (if in any) do you multitask?

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