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Posts Tagged ‘multitasking’

On Saturday, I rushed through the kitchen and announced to my household: “Don’t follow my example. I’m trying to do too many things at once but here’s what I need you to do ….”  Some of the tasks I was trying to accomplish were putting groceries away in the refrigerator, reminding the kiddos what to get ready so we could leave for an event, and I needed to return a text with timely information. I thought I might have pulled it off until the next morning. Three food items that should have gone in the refrigerator were still sitting in the grocery bag on the counter. Ugh! I hate that I wasted time and money on food that was planned for the week.

Before I blame this pressure to multitask on modern expectations, the following quote is attributed to Mozart (1756 – 1791): The shorter way to do many things is to only do one thing at a time. The temptation to multitask is strong but the hidden costs of multitasking can build up. While we might feel like we are getting a few things done at once, research has shown that our brain is switching between the tasks and has to constantly re-focus on each new task. The challenge is “even though multitasking is wildly inefficient, it feels productive”.

“I’m trying to do too many things at once”. The next time that thought pops into my brain, or the words come out of my mouth, what can I do? I can take a mindful pause. It will not “waste” any time to pause, take a few deep breaths or even do a one-to-three-minute mindfulness practice. The immediate, rushed pressure of the moment will diminish. It will be easier for my brain to determine the order of the tasks or if I can delegate a task or if I can save a task until another time. Don’t follow my example when I’m trying to rush and multitask. Go ahead and follow my example when I take a pause, decide what needs to be done first and then do one thing at a time. 

Sources:

Carter, C. (2020). Three ways to help your kids succeed at distance learning: How can parents support their children at the start of an uncertain school year?. Greater Good Science Center. Berkeley University of California. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/three_ways_to_help_your_kids_succeed_at_distance_learning

Guided Meditations. UCLA Health. https://www.uclahealth.org/marc/mindful-meditations#english

Harmon, M. (2019). Accomplish MORE in LESS Time. Live Healthy Live Well Blog. Found at:  https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/03/28/accomplish-more-in-less-time/

Levy, D., Wobbrock, J., Kaszniak, A., & Ostergren, M. (2012). The effects of mindfulness meditation training on multitasking in a high-stress information environment. Graphics Interface Conference.  

Powell S. K. (2016). Mindfulness, Multitasking, and You. Professional case management21(2), 61–62. https://doi.org/10.1097/NCM.0000000000000141     https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26844712/

Wang, Z., & Tchernev, J. (2012). The “myth” of media multitasking: Reciprocal dynamics of media multitasking, personal needs, and gratifications. Journal of Communication 62 (2012) 493–513 © 2012 International Communication Association

Written by: Patrice Powers-Barker, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Lucas County

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Perry County

Photo by Maria Lin Kim on Unsplash

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excited kids looking at a computer

A couple months ago, I wrote a blog titled Accomplish MORE in LESS Time. I was tired of feeling like I was so busy at times, yet not feeling like I accomplished as much as I could or should. I wanted to make some changes to my schedule and my work habits. I started researching proven strategies for increasing productivity. I am going to review my progress and provide some additional information about productivity.

Since I denounced the concept of multitasking in my last blog, I have reduced the amount of time I spend trying to multitask. I check my email in batches: first thing in the morning, mid-morning, before and after lunch, and later in the afternoon. Logging out of email has helped reduce disruptions in my work flow. The downside is that I have been late getting on to Zoom meetings because my calendar did not give me the 15 minute warning. So, I have learned to set the alarm on my phone for these times. This allows me to keep email closed, yet not miss other obligations.

Another thing I have been doing, is avoiding ‘visiting’ with my co-workers first thing in the morning. More people tend to be productive and creative in the morning, rather than later in the day. This one has been challenging since I am a people person. At first I felt like I was not being friendly, so I explained my rationale to my co-workers so they would not think I am just being antisocial. This has been helpful for my own productivity. I have intentionally been designating morning time to work on projects like blog articles, webinars, and other “thinking” work and saving my socializing for the afternoon, unless my co-workers initiate a conversation.

While, I have been doing things that I learned from my research on productivity, I still have a lot of room for improvement. I want to get better at taking breaks from my work. I have a treadmill desk, so I often think I don’t really need to go outside or for a walk since I am able to walk anytime I want to right at my desk. This could not be further from the truth. According to MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Bob Pozen people who take regular breaks FROM their work are more productive. He suggests the question to ask yourself is not how many breaks you should take in a day, but “what is the appropriate time period of concentrated work you can do before taking a break?” Pozen suggests between 75-90 minutes of work followed by a 15 minute break is a good ratio.

empty office

I am going to be more intentional about taking breaks FROM my work in the next couple months. I have used socializing with my co-workers as one of my breaks from work, but I have not incorporated many other breaks aside from the occasional web-surfing in to my day. I want to incorporate LEAVING my office and/or building for at least a short walk or just to sit outside and enjoy the outdoors as my next goal for increased productivity.

I welcome any tips, tricks, or suggestions you have for increasing productivity since this is a journey for me. Feel free to leave your comments below.

Photo Credit:

https://pixabay.com/photos/children-win-success-video-game-593313/

https://pixabay.com/photos/simpolo-india-morbi-tiles-ceramics-2020200/

Sources:

Griffin, J. (2017) 4 Ways Multi-Tasking Decreases Productivity (And How to Avoid It). Northeastern University Graduate Programs. Retrieved from: https://www.northeastern.edu/graduate/blog/why-you-shouldnt-multitask/

Harmon, M. (2019). Accomplish MORE in LESS Time. Live Healthy Live Well Blog. Found at:  https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/03/28/accomplish-more-in-less-time/

MIT Sloan Executive Education. (2017). Want to be more productive in 2018? Take more breaks. MIT Management Executive Education. Found at: https://executive.mit.edu/blog/want-to-be-more-productive-in-2018-take-more-breaks#.XOL8RSB7lhE

Wharton School. (2013). Productivity in the Modern Office: A Matter of Impact. University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved from: https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/productivity-in-the-modern-office-a-matter-of-impact/

Written by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Jami Dellifield, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hardin County, dellifield@osu.edu

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open laptop with smart phone on video call in front of it

How many times a day, a week, or a month do you say, “I am so busy?” When I look at my calendar, yes I still use paper, there are times when I get a little overwhelmed and wonder why I am so busy. I color-code my calendar to denote meetings, presentations or classes, blogs, and personal appointments. This allows me to quickly glance at it and prioritize my work, in theory. However, at times, my calendar can leave me a bit stressed.

Have you ever heard someone bragging about how great they are at multitasking? I admit, I used to. I could be working on several things at the same time and keep it all straight, or so I thought. I realized I was not completing these tasks as well as I could or should. The truth is that there is no such thing as multitasking. Yes, I just said that. This former self-proclaimed multitasker just denounced the entire concept!

Research shows that multitasking is a myth. Our brains are good at switching tasks very quickly. So much so, that we mistakenly think we are able to do several things at once. Now, there are exceptions. For instance, as I type this blog, I am walking on my treadmill. These two activities require different areas of the brain; therefore, I am able to both of them simultaneously, reasonably well . I also have been walking for 4+ decades, so it requires very little brain power. Now, if I was trying to learn a new physical activity while compiling this blog, I would likely have trouble.

I decided to look at proven strategies to help increase productivity since I sometimes feel soo busy. I discovered some interesting research. For instance, employees at green companies are more productive, blue skies may decrease productivity, negativity in the workplace can hurt productivity, and hiding from your manager may increase your productivity. While these all make sense, I really wanted to focus on things that I can do immediately.

According to an article by Heather Stringer called Boosting productivity, these are a few tips to start with:

  1. Grow your attention span. Even though technology can empower us to accomplish things faster, Larry Rosen, PhD has found that those benefits can disappear when digital distractions are so readily available.
  2. Write out your goals. Many people who work are familiar with the idea of setting goals for themselves, but achieving those goals can be elusive. Research is showing that establishing a habit of writing about goals can boost performance.
  3. Get together. The idea of fitting in another meeting may seem counter-productive for people working in group settings, but research ­suggests that taking time to debrief as a team can improve productivity in the long run.
  4. Get out of the chair. Researchers are finding that employees with stand-­capable workstations may be more productive than their seated counterparts.

I plan to implement some of these strategies to help increase my productivity and reduce how often I feel soo busy. I will keep you updated in future posts as to how it is going and I will add more suggestions. I would love to see your tips for increasing productivity in the comments.

Reviewer: Michelle Treber,

Image:

https://pixabay.com/photos/laptop-computer-technology-asus-425826/

Sources:

Newman, K. (2019). Why You Never Seem to Have Enough Time. Greater Good Magazine. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_you_never_seem_to_have_enough_time

Stringer, H. (2017). Boosting productivity. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/09/boosting-productivity

Henion, A. and Johnson, R. Workplace Negativity Can Hurt Productivity. Research@MSU. https://research.msu.edu/workplace-negativity-can-hurt-productivity/

Noble, C. (2013). Hiding From Managers Can Increase Productivity. Working Knowledge. https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/hiding-from-managers-can-increase-your-productivity

Hewitt, A. (2012). Employee at ‘green’ companies are significantly more productive, study finds. UCLA Newsroom. http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/study-certified-green-companies-238203

Noble, C. (2012). Blue Skies, Distractions Arise: How Weather Affects Productivity. Working Knowledge. https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/blue-skies-distractions-arise-how-weather-affects-productivity

Weinschenk, S. (2012). The True Cost of Multitasking. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brain-wise/201209/the-true-cost-multi-tasking

Hamilton, J. (2008). Think You’re Multitasking? Think Again. NPR. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95256794

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