As most of us know, startups require team members to play a variety of ongoing roles within barebones organizational charts. However, continually juggling more meetings, activities and tasks all at once can take a real toll on a team’s productivity. Not surprisingly that ongoing attempt to “multitask” can affect a company’s ultimate success. To take the issue head-on I want to expose the truth about five myths of multitasking and make some suggestions that should help save time, reduce mistakes, improve creativity, productivity, and even team spirit.
MYTH #1 Working in several startup roles at the same time can be effective. In fact, when we are switching gears it often slows down productivity while increasing the chance for errors. TRY THIS: Instead of doing unrelated things back-to-back-to-back, encourage yourself and others to first group similar activities together. Also consider assigning one priority or bigger project to each day of the week, or at least to a time of the day. In addition, remember that new technologies can allow team members to work in an asynchronous manner, so each member can now contribute in their own time. This means a project hub can be established, for instance using Infolio, and individuals can tap into the hub when they are ready to focus on that task or project.MYTH #2: Building a startup team means having workers juggle meetings so they feel included. Consider the entrepreneur or department head who is dialed into an optional meeting while also multitasking and working on his or her computer. The result is this key team member is so distracted that they decrease team spirit. Their lack of focus is perceived by the group as a lack of interest. TRY THIS: Include only the most important team members for that meeting’s objective but use a visual cloud-based work board to document meeting minutes and action notes, as well as related documentation. Thus additional team members not on the call/in the room can easily reference 24/7 from anywhere in the world to get updates and feel connected.
MYTH #3: Multitasking doesn’t take a toll on decision making. It turns out moving from one group of tasks to another frequently keeps your brain operating on a superficial level, which can take a toll on memory, and a loss in memory may lead to poor decision making. TRY THIS: Keep in mind the decisions each team will be responsible for when organizing and moving each project forward. This discipline will help deepen concentration and knowledge, allowing for more focused and productive thinking.
MYTH #4: Great entrepreneurs do more than one thing at a time to get things done faster and with better results. The problem with doing even one complex task along with a simple task, such as talking on the phone while typing a letter, is that your brain may overlook data completely. Have you ever been walking while talking on the phone and walk past a building without noticing it? TRY THIS: From founders on down, train yourself to do one thing at a time instead of doubling up on tasks. Try setting a timer for 30 minutes to complete a first task and then another 30 minutes for a second task. This will help improve on the final product.
MYTH #5: Busy multitasking workers are just expressing an overflow of creativity. The startup team that multitasks may be using up their working memory, which can actually take a toll on creativity. TRY THIS: Create and then update visual boards for brainstorming that teams can add to and view online. This way ideas can be shared and expanded on in their own time. Select an application that tracks participation so team members can build on one another's creative ideas with written thoughts, visual reference or research links.
The failure rate of startups is high, so don’t fall prey to the myths of multitasking. Taking the time to consider how we actually think, create and process day-to-day will aid your pursuit of success and help create strong, functional teams that know the difference between multitasking and versatility. Multitasking means doing many things at once and can squander time, take one away from deep thinking and result in the inability to flex. A slightly different, yet more effective approach to handling many ongoing tasks lies in tapping to your team’s multiple skills, which can seem like multitasking but deliver greater ongoing benefits to individual contributors and your team.
See how this can be achieved with Infolio - these Visual Wokspaces have been created by product, design and marketing teams – for brainstorming ideas, creative process mapping, designing marketing campaigns and teamwork, in one place.
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There is more to come - we will keep you posted!