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The Multi-Tasking Illusion

Many of us underestimate the amount of time we are distracted. In one study, office workers believed they were distracted every 10 minutes but when they were observed it was found to be every 3 minutes.

Many of us believe our distractions come from others, however, most interruptions are self-initiated because simple and new things are well.. just more attractive then deep thinking.

Serial multitaskers find it harder to think and prioritise as hopping from one task to another quickly means you are not thinking sufficiently about what you are doing so you are more than likely to engage in low levels activities as you are high priority. You just don’t stop to think long enough as to whether you should be doing them.

It is estimated that multi-tasking is costing corporations 28 billion a year because this constant activity, scanning and task hopping. Multi-tasking doesn’t help us think, it reduces our thinking capacity and ensures we don’t produce our best results because we haven’t give projects and ideas enough time to formulate in our minds. Multi-tasking is exhausting us because we are meant to work in bursts. Our “on button” is meant to be switched to “off” every so often.

So how do you increase your focus?

There are many simple ways – eg turn off your email, turn off email alerts, put your phone on silent. Turn of instant messaging. Put distractions out of sight. Time how long you check your inbox so you have bigger blocks of time for work of importance. This gives clearing your inbox urgency. Commit to moving emails onto their next logical step rather than doing them all and be ruthless.

Focus in bursts – focus/recover/focus/recover. Just like a heart beat we are meant to pulse … not flat line!

What is the right balance?

Time tracking effectiveness app “Desk time” undertook a study and monitored the behaviour patterns of the top 10 % most effective workers. These workers followed a pattern of 52 minutes of focus followed by 17 minutes of recovery where many stepped away from their desks to refuel physically and mentally.

What type of breaks benefit the brain best?

  1. Walking through a park apparently is the most relaxing type of break because you don’t have to be alert to traffic and the sights and sounds are pleasing. Set up relaxing pictures in your break out rooms. Create a GREAT view. Pipe sounds of nature into the room and include comfy chairs. Make it a place people want to come to relax and leave refreshed. Have words like “BREATHE deep, close your eyes and relax” on the walls To remind people to release tension and to refuel their cells.
  2. Set the pace and lead the pack! Take regular breaks yourself and encourage your people to come with you.
  3. Encourage people to have a laugh and a good nights sleep. Sleep raises our performance. Lack of sleep costs!!! Set an alarm to remind you go to go bed.

Create uninterrupted chunks of time so you can focus for longer creating higher quality work in a sustainable way.


February 3, 2016

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Time Management Courses Perth

We’ve all been to courses where you are lucky to come away with one thing you can do something with. The sad thing is many of us believe this is a good investment of our time. Even though, when we get back to work we don’t even implement that one thing because we are inundated by what has piled up while we are away.

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