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Getting More Out of Your Time: Multitasking, Does it Really Work?

Last summer I posted an article, “Managing Your Energy”. Within the article I share a tool known as a Joy Break where you strategically spend 3-5 minutes, every 90 minutes, throughout your day doing something that brings you joy. A Joy Break could be walking to the water cooler, visiting with a co-worker, stepping outside, checking personal messages…you get the idea. The purpose of the Joy Break is to refresh your energy, allowing you to refocus on the task at hand for the next 90-minute period.

As I continue to share this tool with others the most common push back I get is, “I don’t have time. My days are so packed; I never make it through my list as it is.”

What people fail to see is when we have energy, we are better able to focus on the task at hand allowing us to actually get more done in the allotted time. So let’s unpack this further by taking a look at an example.

When you walk into a 60-minute meeting, how many times does the meeting run over the allotted time? What would happen if everyone in the meeting would put all other work and distractions aside and give the topic at hand 100% focus? Do you think you could accomplish the task quicker? Do you think you might possibly come away with even a better outcome?

So many times we are checking emails, text messages or working on another project while in a meeting. Professionals like to call this multi-tasking. And they like to say that having the ability to multi-task makes them better. However, I look at multi-tasking as having a distraction. It’s an opportunity for something to get missed. Doing more than one thing at a time takes your eye off the ball; your eye off what should be the most important thing at that moment. Basically, multi-tasking makes you less effective.

Why do people find the need to multi-task? Most would say because they don’t have time to do everything that is required of them. Yet if we focus on one thing at a time we would be more effective and we could accomplish that task in less time. Would that not also mean we have more time to focus on the other distractions later? Or even free up a little extra time to spend between tasks?

So let’s weave in the idea of Joy Breaks. Let’s reframe your day to give 100% focus and attention to the task at hand knowing that you have 3-5 minutes after to do something that brings you joy: something that will refresh your energy and allow you to refocus on the next task. This allows you to break your day into smaller periods of time, ideally 60-90 minutes. Within your structure you will account for 3-5 minutes between tasks to check in on the other things that naturally linger in our minds, perhaps something that is happening on the personal side.

By breaking our day into smaller, more manageable chunks we can bring clear intention and focus to that very moment in time. Ultimately, resulting in higher productivity. Give it a try for one week and see what happens!

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