We are constantly bombarded by the message to DO MORE everywhere we go. Our to-do lists have never been longer.  And technology has given us the luxury of being able to take care of so many tasks on the go. But is it making you more productive?  Is it really bringing in more clients and revenue?

Multitasking makes us less productive.

When we talk about multitasking that means having several “tabs” open in our brains at one time and then switching back and forth between them.
In a business context this might be the scenario: You need to write an email to a potential client. But just as you get started you remember something else you forgot to do yesterday and decide to knock that out. Then you get an email you should answer so you switch to that. And so on, and so forth.  We have all had a million days that look like this. No new Client, no new revenue.  What happened?
You, my friend, have been the victim of Context Switching.

What is context switching?

In essence it is switching back and forth from two or more things (contexts) during a single block of time.  That block of time could be a few hours, a day, a week, or even a month. Why is that killing your productivity?

Let’s look at the science:

Academic studies have found that workers are interrupted—or self-interrupt—roughly every three minutes, with many distractions coming in both digital and human forms. Once thrown off track, it can take some 23 minutes for a worker to return to the original task, says Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, who studies digital distraction.
Additional studies concluded that people performed post-interruption tasks more slowly compared to pre-interruption performance. They also found that people made more errors in post-interruption performance. They suggest people then try to compensate for interruptions by working faster.  But this causes them to experience more stress, higher frustration, and time pressure.

So, let’s break it down.

Say you have set aside Monday to research and write your weekly blog post. If you only do that you get 100% of the time to focus and execute. The blog post gets written, you post it and you create engagement with your audience.
If you switch to a second task during that time you will lose about 20% of your time frame due to context switching. That means you get roughly 80% productivity.
Throw in a third task and the loss actually increases to 40% dropping your productivity to 60%.
Four tasks leave you with just 40% productivity. An average of five tasks can rob you of 75% of your time due to context switching which translates into getting only 25% of any of your tasks completed. That means you are working the entire day, but you have accomplished no single task. You can’t check anything off of your to-do list and you feel frustrated and defeated.

CONTEXT SWITCHING KILLS PRODUCTIVITY

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How to solve the problem.

If this happens to you, don’t be dismayed. There is a way to self correct the phenomenon of context switching. Here at Code Switch Media we are thrilled to be students of Todd Herman in his 90 Day Year course for Entrepreneurs. In the course we have learned how Context Switching = The Death of Productivity and it is a key factor behind why so many people just can’t seem to get any traction in their business. Along with helping us to realize it isn’t us- it’s the way we have been doing things, Todd is teaching us an entirely different way to BLOCK AND TACKLE our days.

What does it look like?

We decide to prioritize our most important goal. We assign a specific block of time when we work on one thing with absolute laser focus. We choose to work on the task that will help us achieve our most important goal in the quickest timeframe with the resources we have available. This means we TURN OFF everything else and we put our heads down and focus on getting it done in the time frame we have allotted. And guess what happens?  We create, we share and we bring value to our audience.  Wow!  That feels amazing!

GirlW/Pencil

If you want to learn more about how to #switchitup in your own business, then subscribe to our blog below.

 

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References:

Todd Herman The 90 Day Year

González, V. M., & Mark, G. (2004, April). Constant, constant, multi-tasking craziness: managing multiple working spheres. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems (pp. 113-120). ACM.
Kreifeldt, J. G., & McCarthy, M. E. (1981). Interruption as a test of the user-computer interface.