I often read stories about how multitasking is a myth because concurrent processing of activities impossibly divides our attention. In fact, multitasking is simply the process of switching from one task to another, and for most people, switching gears reduces efficiency and increases the chances of error. According to the American Psychological Association, research has shown that multitasking is part of a human’s “executive control” processes and occurs in two distinct, complementary changes:
- Goal Shifting -- When you decide you want to move to a new task
- Rule Activation -- When you turn off prior rules and activate the rules you need for a specific new task
Theses shifts may take only seconds but can add up to loss in productivity that costs as much of 40 percent of an individual’s time.
So if multitasking for more productivity is a myth, then how does an entrepreneur or busy team member get through the day, especially in a fast paced startup environment, constantly changing hats and processing a relentless flow of information? The solution is organizing and grouping similar activities together. Nowhere is this more clear than in our digital work.3 Tips for Organizing Digital Tasks
Reduce moving from application to application to gather information for work. Relentless switching between apps like Slack, Evernote, Prezi, Pinterest, Office 365, etc. means lost time that could be better used in deeper thought about a creative idea, business issue, or innovation plan.
Use a cloud-based service to group together all of the information for team activities, securely and visually in context. With a platform like Infolio, for instance, team members can easily create a visual “workspace board” and switch activities throughout the day. They won’t lose as much efficiency or productivity from otherwise switching documents, discussions, research and assets -- which historically become scattered in different application-based folders.
Move from workspace to workspace rather than from application to application. To further avoid the pitfalls of multitasking, create a visual workspace board for each team or discipline. This allows you to switch gears without fumbling through calendars, to-lists, email boxes, chat streams, and document folders. When it’s time to start one particular project, it’s simple to open the workspace associated with it, gather the team in person or remotely, and move through goals and deliverables. When that’s done just open a new one and take on the next team, meeting, or set of tasks. In parallel the previous team can continue to execute on programs and update their board and area.
Keep This in Mind
Using a digital workspace can be really easy. To change multitasking mayhem into calm collaboration remember to:
- Create team boards for active projects only
- Keep to-do lists within that board to audit team progress
- Annotate in real-time using in-app “sticky notes”
- Manage all conversations within the space using a link to Slack or built-in chat
- Organize the boards so they are always easy to navigate, keeping like projects, links, collateral, documents or to-do lists visually near each other.
In the end, a simple shift away from constant application switching can regularly save time better spent on results, deeper thinking and greater creativity. It can also help to avoid the worst hazards of “multitasking,” which is a daily win for teams of any size.
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