Many of us have at least one bad work habit we want to break, but before we can change it, we must first be aware of it. Consistent bad habits can take away from work progress and compromise business flow. This article is the first in a three-part series on common bad habits to break in 2016, so you can increase productivity while reducing stress. Who wouldn’t want that! Our first topic covers the downside of multi-tasking.
Are you a chronic multi-tasker, thinking you get more done by switching from task to task instead of completing one project before moving on to the next? Multi-tasking at work is when you either try to perform two tasks at the same time or switch quickly from one task to another. If so, research shows that this is actually a bad habit worth breaking.
A study conducted in 2001 showed that we are less effective when we switch between tasks frequently since it takes more time to reacquaint ourselves with where we left off when we jump between projects.
The study researchers Joshua Rubenstein, PhD, Jeffrey Evans, PhD. and David Meyer PhD. concluded that switching from task to task not only costs time but can cause more errors. While multi-tasking may appear to make you more efficient, the bits of time to switch from task to task can really add up, especially if you have many tasks you want to accomplish in a day and some or all are complex by nature.
Researcher Meyer determined “that even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40% of someone’s time.” For maximum productivity, stop multi-tasking and follow these three efficiency tips:
- Batch similar tasks together such as making phone calls, checking mail, reading and writing.
- Eliminate distractions so you can focus on completing a task or getting as much done on it before moving on to a new task.
- Work in one hour to 90 minutes segments at a time and take a break before starting the next task. Even getting up to get some water and moving for five minutes can help you reset and approach the next task in a refreshed and more productive manner.