Ping, ping, ping! Direct messages on Twitter here, Facebook messages there, WhatsApps, 35 open tabs in 10 different browser windows. When you are doing everything at the same time, you are most likely not getting anything done. While many think they can do all it at once and call it multitasking, many scientists are not so sure this strategy is as productive as we might like.
On Forbes, Douglas Merrill, author of Getting Organized in the Google Era, says, “You can walk and chew gum at the same time. Folding laundry while talking on the phone? Not a problem. A clown can ride a unicycle while juggling brightly colored balls. This form of multitasking works because these are rote tasks that don’t require much brainpower.”
Jim Taylor, Ph.D., who specialized in the psychology of business and teaches at the University of San Francisco, goes even further and says that what we call multitasking doesn’t exist. He explains, “Rather than engaging in simultaneous tasks, you are in fact shifting from one task to another to another in rapid succession. For example, you switch from your phone conversation to a document on your computer screen to an Email and back again in the belief that you are doing them simultaneously. But you’re not.”
As multitasking is obviously not the way to success, focusing on one project at a time can help.
Here are five easy tips to get less distracted:
1. Work where you feel comfortable
Sometimes it’s at home, sometimes it’s at café. Don’t force yourself to stay in one place. Walking from one café to another can free your mind. A co-working space where you can receive feedback from people with other points of view can also be a good option. Just, wherever you go, make sure to remember why you went there in the first place.
2. Switch your phone to silent, and turn it around so you cannot see the display.
It might be a good idea to put your phone on the other side of the desk so you won’t notice when messages or calls come in. Most of the time, it’s not relevant to what you’re doing. Even worse is when you receive a “Hey, how are you?” from others who are stuck being unproductive themselves.
3. Make a plan
Write down your to-dos and the time you think you will need for them. During the time you are working, focus on one project only. Don’t reply to Emails, Facebook or whatever pings up. It helps a lot if you close the programs so that you don’t even notice. After you worked your calculated time, take a break and look through your private accounts and reply to your messages and calls.
Also, to make plans early in the morning, use water proof notes. A lot of cool ideas and good things come up in your mind while taking a shower. Some people write their grocery shopping lists and others think of a great gift for mother’s day. However, it helps if you don’t forget your ideas in the bathroom but take them with you.
4. One browser window for one task
If you have to do a lot of online research, use one browser window for each topic. You will get less distracted by irrelevant information and have all information in one view instead of having all your information where you can no longer trace it.
5. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work
Some days, maybe even Sundays, can turn out very productive. On other days, you may find it hard to get anything done. Give each day a chance, but sometimes let go. It is normal that your body and your mind need a break from time to time. Use these hours or days to recharge by going out and being creativity by doing other things. Or keep looking at gifs.