While parents may need to prepare dinner, watch the kids, and keep the dog from catching the cat at the same time, multitasking in a professional setting doesn’t work. It’s simply ineffective to try to do things in parallel to the best of your ability. In fact, you lose 20% of your overall productivity for each task you try to take on at once.
Yet, many people attempt and fail at it every single day. Then they’re left wondering why they feel unproductive, or worse, still stuck at work at 8pm trying to get everything done. So, in the age of infinite distractions, how do you focus on only one thing at a time, and what impact can this have on your productivity? Let’s take a look.
Imagine you’re completing a report that should only take one hour to draft. Then an email comes in from your boss. Better jump on that. While you’re replying, you see a LinkedIn notification telling you that someone’s commented on your post, so you check it out and comment back.
Report = 1 hour
Email to boss = 10 minutes
LinkedIn comment = 5 minutes
Total = 1 Hour 15 Minutes
Report = 1 hour 12 minutes
Email to boss = 12 minutes
LinkedIn comment = 6 minutes
Total = 1 Hour 30 Minutes
If this scenario happens four times throughout your day, you end up working an extra hour – or you spend an hour less on your priority task. And over a week you’ve lost five hours. Imagine what you could do with five extra hours back in your week!
Prioritizing individual tasks isn’t a new time management skill, but it is an important one. It involves identifying and rating your to-dos, from most important and urgent to least important and urgent. There are many systems you can use to do this, both low-fi and hi-fi, but a simple and time-tested way is to create a daily list, with your highest priority item at the top.
Working from the top down, you can then cross each task off your list individually as you complete it. At the end of the day, you have a visual representation of everything you’ve achieved, which can be extremely rewarding. You can then start the next day with a fresh list, or carry-over anything you didn’t get done from the previous day.
Sticking to one task on your list at a time, also called ‘single-tasking’, can lower your stress levels, help you focus more, and boost your productivity to get better results at work. You also achieve that rewarding feeling as things are knocked off your list, which motivates you to keep going.
In a workplace, remote or otherwise, there is any number of distractions that pull focus away from where it should be. Some of these include responding to social media notifications, checking the latest news, and chatting to colleagues or friends. However, one of the biggest culprits is email. Employees spend almost 30% of their time responding to, reading, or composing emails, with the average person checking their email over 70 times per day.
When a new email comes in and you see or hear that you have a notification, your focus and attention is drawn to it. This pulls you away from your current task and keeps you in a permanent state of multitasking.
As discussed, setting aside time to focus solely on reading and replying to emails can be very helpful productivity and time management tool. With precious time set aside, you don’t want to be wasting it working your way through a cluttered inbox. Therefore, managing your emails in a clean, structured, and automated way will help you make the most of your dedicated time, and work through priority emails first. If only there was a smart application that did that for you… this is where InMoat comes in!
InMoat’s AI-powered email smart filters analyze your inbox to identify known contacts within your network, such as colleagues, clients, vendors, and associates and marks them as trusted sources. It then filters out unsolicited and unwanted emails, including sales pitches and random webinar invitations. What’s left is a neatly organized inbox with only important and relevant emails that require your attention.Doing one thing at a time means managing your time wisely. So, regain control of your inbox, check your emails, and get back to doing what you do best. Sign up for a free trial now!