25 Oct Focused Task Management: The Secret To Staying Productive While Working From Home
My first full-time marketing job was in real estate. I remember how impressed I was how real estate agents were able to do soooo many things at one time.
One top agent took this to the extreme. I watched in awe as she wrote contracts while eating lunch and negotiating deals over the phone, handled property management requests during listing photoshoots while helping her kids with their homework, and marketed her business during company trainings while texting clients.
Then one day… she found herself in the middle of a lawsuit. Her constant multitasking got her in trouble. Distraction caused her to forget to disclose a major invisible property defect to a buyer.
Long after I left that job, I heard she was recovering from a bad accident due to texting and driving. Back then I didn’t understand, but now I know that her extreme multitasking was her eventual downfall.
We’ve been taught to multitask our entire lives. And it’s one big lie. The truth? When you focus on just one thing at a time, you’ll achieve higher quality results and avoid burnout.
Keyword = FOCUS.
There are three obstacles that will cause you to lose focus during your day: multitasking, task switching, and context switching.
Here’s everything you need to know to recognize and avoid each:
Multitasking involves doing many tasks at once that are all related to the same end result. Many people attempt multitasking in an effort to be efficient. In fact, it’s often celebrated! However, multitasking is not as effective as some believe.
If you think you’re an expert multitasker, think again.
For example, you may have experienced walking while trying to type and email on your phone. While these are both tasks that you know well, they become much more difficult when they’re done at the same time. This is because your attention is split between two tasks instead of one.
Task switching is similar to multitasking in that it involves doing many things at once. However, task switching is even less productive than multitasking. Task switching occurs while focusing on many things at once that are not related to one specific goal.
For example, you may have a conversation on the phone about an upcoming event while writing an outline for a new project. These tasks have nothing to do with each other.
You’re more likely to miss important details when you’re trying to give your attention to two different things at once.
It can always be difficult to focus. Task switching makes it even harder. The focused feeling of losing track of time and being in the zone is invigorating and productive. This habit prohibits the ability to get totally lost in your work.
Switching from task to task simultaneously means that none of the work produced will be as high in quality as work that is done while only focusing on one thing.
There are two types of task switching: interrupted task switching and rapid task switching.
Interrupted Task Switching
Interrupted task switching occurs most of the time when you have email, social media, and text message notifications.
If you have noise alerts or pop-ups on your computer, you’ll likely be easily distracted and pulled out of the moment you’re having with your work. If you’re in a flow state, totally focused and even enjoying yourself, that can all be lost with a simple notification.
An example of this unfortunate interruption is illustrated by our biggest distraction: social media. ****Once you notice a new social media notification, the moment you click on it you have officially task switched. You may be working on the project in one window while checking social media on the next.
These interruptions are a major obstacle in time management. They inhibit you from entering the flow state required to get done what you need to.
Rapid Task Switching
Rapid task switching involves switching from task to task in rapid succession.
Taking notes on your notebook with your computer open to another task is one sure-fire way to fall into rapid task switching. You may move from typing an email to writing an outline for a project you’re working on in the same second.
Going from task to task in quick succession diminishes awareness not just on your work, but on the rest of the world around you as well. It limits your ability to think clearly and with care.
Context switching occurs when we go from one task to an entirely different task. This is different from multitasking and task switching in that it does not involve doing many tasks at once.
Context switching means moving from one project to another without completing either project.
If you have eight hours in your work time, choose your most important project and work on that. In order to use your time most effectively, complete that first project before moving on to anything else. If you move from project A before it is done, you’ll likely end up with two unfinished projects by the end of the day instead of one whole task done.
A huge disadvantage to context switching is that it wastes precious work time. Once you’ve come out of focus, it takes about 25 minutes to get into another state of focus. If you switch contexts three times in your day, you’ve lost over an hour of time that could have been expertly well spent.
5 Strategies for Focused Task Management
Have no fear, it’s possible to prevent these distracting habits. Here are 5 strategies to help you focus on just one thing at a time:
- Implement the when and where of your work environment. When you’re in your ideal work setting, you’re more likely to become engulfed in your work.
- Make it a rule to complete a task before you begin the next one. This will increase your work endurance and will help you get more done. You won’t waste such precious time.
- Turn off all of your social media and email notifications. Turn all of your technology on do not disturb mode. ****You can even have an auto message letting people know when you’ll be back online.
- Stay away from distracting websites. You may have a habit of typing in your favorite website when you really meant to check your email. You can avoid this by using applications and reminders that will protect you from distracting websites.
- Take advantage of sound. Put on your favorite background noise or eliminate background noise altogether with noise-canceling headphones.
Productivity in business, in its simplest form, is learning how to focus on profitable things consistently without burning out.
If you are struggling with busy work, unable to focus on business growth, it’s time to relearn how to get things done.
Seamlessly Scheduled, my business productivity masterclass, can help you REINVENT your life and business so you can enjoy more money, more free time, and a system that works.
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