Multitasking is not really helping you!
Our office started with a handful of “jack of all trades” type team members, just like many of you I’m sure have experienced. For companies today, thanks to fast-paced everything, taking on multiples roles is standard for employees. Luckily, millennials seem to pride themselves on their ability to “multitask.”
With tighter deadlines, 24-hour schedules, and an increased sense of urgency across the business landscape, multitasking looks like the only way to the top.
Well, that’s not at all true, according to multiple scientific studies.
People who attempt to multitask at work actually experience a 40% decrease in productivity overall. And, really, only 2% of us can successfully multitask. Still, multitasking is our autopilot at work for most of us.
What we should be doing instead is engaging in periods of deep work throughout the day.
What is “Deep Work”?
Deep work is “the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task,” according to productivity mastermind, Cal Newport. Those who consistently engage in deep work actually develop the ability to process complicated information and produce quality work more efficiently. Much more efficiently than an employee constantly trying to multitask.
So, how do we stop promoting multitasking and start promoting deep work in the office?
There are a few different methods you can introduce to help your employees become truly productive:
1. Work has to be hard sometimes
One of the unavoidable truths about hard work is it’s just not always going to be fun. So many companies are focused on making everything engaging and collaborative, and productivity is suffering as a result. We need to reintroduce the idea that there are going to be periods throughout the day where individuals have to buckle down and do the boring stuff. But always reward times of hard work with relaxing breaks regularly to keep everyone motivated.
2. Schedule uninterrupted blocks of time
The number of times a day your team members are likely to be interrupted by emails, calls, meetings, etc is probably much higher than you realize. It takes approximately 20 minutes for someone to refocus on a task after getting a notification. Can you imagine how much time is wasted refocusing because of constant multitasking? It’s much more efficient to engage in periods of uninterrupted deep work. Allow employees to schedule blocks of uninterrupted time to focus on tasks throughout the day and communicate and collaborate outside of this scheduled time.
3. Allow for closed-off space
Part of deep work is about eliminating all distractions. A lot of companies have eliminated private work spaces in favor of more collaborative environments like an open office space. While this has its perks, it’s also a huge opportunity for distraction. Allowing space where employees can block themselves off from the rest of the group to concentrate for hours at a time is a great way to encourage complete concentration without distraction.
4. Set serious deadlines
There’s something about a tight deadline that kicks people into higher degree of concentration. Think back to cramming before a big exam at school. Try the same tactic with your team. Increase your deadline expectations and put deadlines on tasks that you normally wouldn’t, in order to keep a sense of urgency. Without that sense of urgency, it’s easy to fall prey to distraction and out of a deep work mode.
Though deep work is generally an individual feat, it helps to use tactics like these to promote a higher level of concentration among team members at work. You’ll notice less half-finished tasks and projects as well as a higher quality of work overall. We hope these tips are helpful to you and your team and you can apply some of these to your own work!