Multitasking is the Devil. Here’s How To Stop Doing It.

Angela Myrtetus

Director of Strategy, 15+ Years in Digital Strategy and Product Innovation

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Multitasking is the Devil. Here’s How To Stop Doing It. Blog Feature

Published on November 2nd, 2017

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I used to think being a multitasker was awesome. In fact, it’s written in my Twitter profile: “Master Multitasker of all the things.”

I was kick-ass at working while going to college (sort of). When I became a mom, I thought it was awesome I could prep dinner while being on a conference call and working on client projects and also helping my kids with their homework.

I had it down. I was glorious at it, but, over the last few years, I’ve realized, as I’m sure many of you have, multitasking is a horrible trait that we need to kill! It’s not productive and is actually detrimental to creativity.

Jumping from one task to another, from one client project to the next, creates a process that is interruptive. You cannot be successful while juggling 100 things in one day.

And this isn’t just an opinion.

Did you know:

Only 2% of people can multitask successfully. With all of our apps and laptops and project management tools, we tend to over-commit and think we can handle it all, but are all these things causing distractions? In my opinion, and this handy blog on Mashable, yes - yes they are!  

Another study showed that people distracted by incoming email and phone calls saw a 10-point fall in their IQs.

Guys, I don’t know about you, but we can’t afford to lose anymore IQ points!!

Here at IMPACT, we use a software tool called JIRA to push deliverables through the agency and get things done on time.

It’s a fantastic way for us to be agile with our clients and be the best at managing our projects, but, I’ve also come to realize that if not done properly, it could create horrible multitasking habits.

As marketers, no matter what process or tool you use to manage projects, it feels like we are doing a hundred thousand things at the exact same time and we are always being pulled in a million different directions.

If we don’t have a plan and goals, multitasking creeps up and kills productivity, but it doesn’t have to.

What can you do differently to ensure you aren’t multitasking or managing a group of multitaskers? Let me tell ya…  

First, and the single most important thing to do - Set OKRs!!

Every quarter,we set objectives and key results (OKRs) we need to achieve for our clients.

What I’ve learned through this process we do for our own clients is that I need to do them for myself as well. And we do! We use 7Geese to set personal objectives for ourselves and our teams. This helps us stay focused and on task.

When you create goals, it’s easier to stick to the tasks that help you meet those goals.

Lay out your goals and the plan to help you achieve those.

Then, when your boss or sales start pulling you in different directions, bring those goals up to your team and say, “Hey, these are the goals for this quarter and here is our plan to achieve those goals. While your idea is solid one, I’d really like to stick to my plan, because I know these are the best tactics to help marketing achieve success.”

Always have OKRs. It helps stay consistent and on task.

Second - Block Out The Noise!

As a marketer, it’s hard to stay on top of the latest industry trends and not be distracted. We have alerts, notifications, emails, and Slack messages sent to us on the daily and we need to.

We cannot miss a beat, but sometimes, all of these notifications creep up on you and before you know it, you’ve spent three hours going down a rabbit hole of marketing trends and you haven’t completed one thing on your to-do list.

The madness must stop.

If you’re a Mac user, or GASP - an HP user, you have a do not disturb feature. Use it! Turn that baby on when you need a few hours of uninterrupted bliss. Sometimes, you need to be free of distractions to do your best work.

No, you don’t have to respond to that email or Slack message right this very second.

My coworkers laugh at me because every time I’m in the office, I have at least 20 unread text messages. Listen, it’s not that I don’t see them come through, I just don’t stop what I’m doing to respond to them immediately.

I am THAT PERSON who can take days to respond to a text. Sorry mom, I do love you!

Distractions are the base of multitasking. So, turn ‘em all off for awhile. Your brain will thank me. Please send $20 to amyrtetus@impactbnd.com for this tip!

Third - Find Your Own Space

Though fun, working in an open office workplace produces more distractions.

I no longer have this problem because I work remote and man alive, I LOVE IT!

Don’t get me wrong, I also love being on the floor at IMPACT headquarters, but I get distracted easily. I can’t even work with the TV on in the background.

But for those who work in an office, especially in an open office environment, it can wreak havoc on your productivity!

In fact, the rise of the open office workplace is getting a lot of heat from media outlets recently.

Forbes shares, “Noise leads to over-stimulation, which leads to stress, which leads to lower productivity.” So, it’s not just me.

If you work in this type of environment, that’s totally cool, but know your limits.

If you have a big project coming up where being on point is crucial, work from home, if you have that luxury. If you don’t, try to find a quiet room, block your calendar, and hunker down for a few hours.

Being around your team is great, but there should also be time and space to just zero in and “get it done.”

Fourth - Prioritize Your Tasks

You’re smart! You know what needs to be done and how long it takes, but, for some reason, so many of us have a really hard time prioritizing tasks. Probably because of point number one in this blog.

To solve this, we have daily standup meetings at IMPACT. They are only 15 minutes, but are the most helpful 15 minutes of the day. It allows us time to talk about what we accomplished yesterday and what we plan on tackling today. We also have a little extra time to prioritize our tasks by client and importance and identify if there are any conflicts.

It helps to also organize your to-dos (or in our case, JIRA cards) by project, campaign, or client like we do.

If you do this, you’re not jumping from client to client or project to project. Complete a set of todos/cards that focus on finishing one project or one client so that your brain can concentrate on one area of information at a time. Jumping around pulls you out of that focus.

The longer you can concentrate on one thing, the more successful you will be on knocking that project out of the park.

In closing, I hope you’re not reading this blog while answering emails, browsing the Facebook and responding to your instant messenger. If you are, head back up to the top and start over -- after you hit “Do Not Disturb” of course!

Have any more tips for avoiding multitasking? I’d love to hear them! Please feel free to comment below! I get the comments directly to my inbox - but I can’t promise I’ll respond right away, b/c I have to stick to my OKRs!  

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