Turns out there no such thing as Multi-tasking

Do you pride yourself on being a good multi-tasker?

Many of us do.

In fact, most agents feel they NEED to be great at multi-tasking to be successful.

Let’s examine this industry mantra.

First, let’s define multi-tasking: Webster’s Dictionary: the performance of multiple tasks at one time.

No surprise there, right?

We all know what multi-tasking is.
Or do we?

Psychology Today: “Much recent neuroscience research tells us that the brain doesn’t really do tasks simultaneously, as we thought (hoped) it might. In fact, we just switch tasks quickly.

Each time we move from hearing music to writing a text or talking to someone, there is a stop/start process that goes on in the brain.

That start/stop/start process is rough on us: rather than saving time, it costs time. It’s less efficient, we make more mistakes, and over time it can be energy sapping.”

Don’t believe it?

I posted a video by Darren Hardy in the Agent Entrepreneurs Facebook group about this.

The video has a quick test for you to try. I only got half the answers right, see how you do.

Multi-tasking Video

Video is posted in Agent Entrepreneurs Facebook Group

No matter what your score is, it is clear that our brains actually SWITCH quickly back and forth, rather than doing two things at once.

Some people can “switch” better than others, but it isn’t doing two or more things at once. Just look up multitasking on Wikipedia.

We should stop calling it multi-tasking, and call it “switch-tasking.”

Exhaustive research has proven that it has some (and possibly a lot) of downsides.

At the top of the list is that it takes us longer to complete the collective tasks than if we had just done each task separately, one at a time.

Plus, switch-tasking has proven to also deplete our energy faster, raise blood pressure, and the list goes on.(YIKES!)

I understand this, but truthfully struggle with switch-tasking every day. I’m often jumping from one task to another.

In examining my own behavior I discovered that my devices are a big part of the problem.

My phone is often alerting me to something, my computer icons start bouncing to get my attention, my ADD brain is jumping around remembering things I want to look up or a phone call I need to make. A colleague walks in to the office and it reminds me of a story or a message I want to share.

All of these things chew up time. A lot of time. The more you examine your time, you see so many interruptions.

So how do we combat this behavior?

Or a better question, how do we improve our productivity?
(Double or triple our productivity).

We all want to do more in less time, right?

Said better, we would all like to do more things, better, in less time.

Solution: I have found for myself that keeping my “to-do” and “not to-do” list in paper by my side while I work is great help to greatly improve my productivity by reducing the amount of “switch-tasking.”

When writing this very article, I gave myself 45 minutes for this task. I put my phone away, I turned off notifications on my computer, and attempted to work just on this task.

During that 45-minute window, my brain wanted to jump to a couple of quick tasks that came to mind, but instead I just quickly wrote those tasks on my to-do list and went back to this article. It’s early in the morning, so I have less distractions from other humans, so that helps as well.

The point is I got it done. It just took the 45 minutes, and had I multi-tasked (switch-tasked) I this article would have stretched over the next 3 mornings (I know because that is exactly what happened with the previous article I wrote).

By being disciplinedI tripled my productivity.

It’s seems simple, because it is simple.

Switching (multi-tasking) slows us down more than we think. I urge you to do your own experiment and test it out yourself. Because the old mantra of being a great multi-tasker may be holding you back from your full potential.


Mike T.