Multi-Tasking: The Bad Habit Everyone Needs to Break

Multi-Tasking: The Bad Habit Everyone Needs to Break

It’s the day before you leave on your long awaited summer vacation, and you are scrambling like heck to get everything done. That means you are doing two or three things at once, like taking client calls while answering email and stopping occasionally to make notes on your to do list.

By the end of the day, you’re exhausted, and no wonder. When you multi-task:

  • Your body releases stress hormones, like adrenaline, which have negative effects on your health in the long-term, and it leads to short-term memory loss. (Psychology Today)
  • You’re 50% slower and 50% more likely to make mistakes than if you focus on one task. (Psychology Today)

So, instead of working more productively to get more things done faster, you are spending your day before vacation working inefficiently – and you’re damaging your health in the process.

If you look at multi-tasking through the lens of emotional intelligence (EQ), you quickly see how your ability to process your emotions and the emotional state of others will affect your decision-making and communication skills. In short, it will make you a more ineffective leader.


Here’s how to break the multi-tasking habit:

Track your time for one day

Just for one day, track how you spend your time at work. Every time you do something, list the task, whether it was work or personal, and how long you spent on it. It might surprise you to see where your time really goes every day.

Eat the frog

I’ve written before about the boost in energy and productivity that comes with “eating the frog,” or doing your hardest task first every morning. This strategy works, so try it. Without the stress of a big project hanging over you, you will be much more productive for the rest of the day.

Put boundaries around email and social media

Checking email or Facebook every time you see a notification pop up means you are constantly inviting distractions into your work. You lose focus, and your productivity goes down the drain. Put some boundaries around email:

  • Turn off email and social media notifications on your desktop and mobile device.
  • Close email or at least cover the tab while you are working.
  • Check social media accounts once, and then close the tabs.
  • Schedule time on your calendar to check email two or three times per day.
  • Make a list of emails you need to send throughout the day; write and send them all at once.

Bundle tasks by project

Bundling tasks by project, aka, batch processing, will help you work more quickly while maintaining your focus. For example, after a meeting, organize your notes and work on or complete your next deliverable for that project.

Naturally, your new “focus” habits will not take root over night. If you would like a matrix to keep track of how you spend your time contact us. We help individuals and teams improve their focus and mindfulness every day.

What is causing you the biggest loss in your productivity?

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