Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time.
It is not possible to effectively focus on more than one thing at a time. You may think that you are the exception and that you can multitask.
Be honest with yourself...
Multitasking is terrible. In fact, at my office it is common to hear the phrase, "Can you please repeat the question? I was multitasking..." It's literally a code word for not paying attention at all.An office is filled with distractions, ranging from the cubicle neighbor selling her daughter’s Girl Scout cookies to one of your several bosses asking you about the cover sheet for your TPS report.
Meanwhile, you're trying to finish up your report while your friend is pinging you about lunch and another is asking about weekend plans.
Distractions come from all directions
If you're working on a side hustle, you are trying to cram even more productivity into your day, and distractions are costly.
Why do we do it?
We have a lot of tasks to accomplish in a limited amount of time, and we are trying to get as much done as possible. When we multitask, we have the best intentions.
Switching tasks is the worst part of multitasking. This is illustrated very well in "The One Thing," by Gary Keller so check it out. (That's an affiliate link.) The idea is that there is a very significant productivity cost to switching between tasks. Let me illustrate...
Imagine you're reviewing a spreadsheet and you have been working on it for 20 minutes. You are intensely focused and are making great progress.
Then, a chat window pops up simultaneously with a chime - it's your boss telling you that she sent you an email and that you should read it.
Bam...You've lost your train of thought.
Did you forget to do something?
Why is she following up with an IM right after sending an email?
You sweat a bit as you panic while replying back to your boss. You see the email is just a cat gif and you've already seen it before.
Great waste of time...You think to yourself, "Where was I...?"
You head back over to your spreadsheet and it takes you a few minutes to recall what you were doing. It takes another 20 minutes due to several new distractions to get back into that super effective flow state.
I take a lot of prompts from Tim Ferriss, so here is a little excerpt from the 4-Hour Workweek. (That's an affiliate link.)
Get in the Zone
Recall a time when you have really been "in the zone." You could have been doing anything - cooking, playing your best round of golf, coding, designing, anything...
(It's commonly called a "Flow State" but that's another big topic.)
In this state you were concentrating intensely, you probably lost your sense of time, and you were totally absorbed in whatever you were doing. This state is impossible to achieve if you are continuously distracted by others or yourself.
You will produce better results if you can get into a flow state. You will be more effective and efficient.
Set yourself up to avoid multitasking & get in the zone
Control your environment and you can ensure that you greatly reduce or ideally eliminate multitasking.
Here is what you should do: