If we could just have your attention for a second – this could change your life!
Of course, time is the one thing we all seemingly have less of nowadays.
With over 300 billion emails sent around the world every single day, and all manner of other online distractions, it’s a wonder anything ever gets done.
But why is it that in the workplace Sally produces outstanding results whilst working across 10 different projects, and Tim struggles to keep up on anything more than two tasks?
Back in the 1980s we were sold the belief that multi-tasking was the answer —the ability to do not just one thing but five things at once.
This may have been a great idea for workplaces, but it was a terrible idea for our brains, says Alison Hill, below, an Australian psychologist and co-founder of Pragmatic Thinking, a behaviour and motivation strategy company.
Research is now finding that our brain is incapable of multi-tasking. Instead of attending to multiple tasks, our brains have been shown on MRI scans to be rapidly switching between two tasks.
In this rapid attention splitting, Alison says our brains get fatigued and there is a lag in reorientation when we come back to a task.
That effect ultimately takes a toll on our productivity – known as ‘switch cost’. If you’ve ever had a busy day at work, felt completely exhausted but still feel like you didn’t really get anything done, then you would have experienced the impact of this ‘switch cost’, she adds
How then do we manage competing priorities that are all grabbing for our attention at once?
The best-selling co-author of Dealing with the Tough Stuff, and Stand Out: A real world guide to get clear, find purpose and become the boss of busy believes by adopting the below three practices, you’ll be well on your way.
1. Clarify priorities
When everything is important nothing is important. Take the time to pause and get clear on what’s priority. Ask yourself, ‘if there was only ONE THING I got done today for me to feel like today was a success what would that be?’.
2. Delegate or eliminate ruthlessly
Be ruthless with your to-do list. Just because you’ve always done it a certain way doesn’t mean that it can’t be done differently. What could you delegate to others or what tasks can be eliminated altogether?
3. Finish what’s in front of you
Resist the urge to quickly check your emails, or grab a cuppa tea. When you notice your attention get pulled elsewhere bring it back to the task and finish what’s in front of you, even if it means letting others know you’re currently not available shortly.