This One Change Will Help You Be More Effective at Your Job

On Episode 118 of the podcast this week, we’re kicking off the start of Season 10, which is all about the idea of bending time so that we can stop focusing on trying to get as much done in as little time as possible, and start focusing on giving ourselves the grace to focus on the things that matter most to us, both at home and at work!

So today, I want to hone in on one of the ways that we can stop trying to do #allthethings at the office… because if you had a chance to tune in this week, then you already know that being productive isn’t at all about crossing off as many tasks on our list and trying to be as efficient as possible (remember: efficiency, contrary to popular belief, is not interchangeable with being effective, and it doesn’t lend itself to boosting our productivity or the quality of work that we do).

Instead, being productive is about doing the things that are in alignment with the long-term goals we have in mind that are key to putting us on the right path toward the life that we truly envision for ourselves in the future.

So how do we stop focusing on being more efficient so that we can be more effective at our jobs instead?

It all comes down to the idea of multitasking. While you may think that your productivity doesn’t suffer when you try to extend your focus to as many tasks at once, the truth is… less than 2% of the population is actually good at multitasking!

So in the spirit of becoming more effective at your job, I want to encourage you to make an effort in the coming weeks to stop trying to cross off multiple tasks on your list at once and start giving yourself the grace to monotask, instead.

And if you’re wondering how you might take yourself from a multitasker to a monotasker, then good news, I’ve got a few tips to help!

 

6 Ways to Avoid Multitasking at Work

 

1. Put Your Phone Away–

One of the biggest hindrances to how effective we are (and how productive we are by extension) is the amount of time that we spend on our phones. Shocker, right?

For some of us, putting our phone away is easier said than done… but I’ve got one simple tip to help you lessen the temptation to stay glued to your screen all day: avoid looking at your phone first thing in the morning!

Studies have shown that when we check our phones when we first wake up, it increases our reactivity mindset… which goes hand in hand with how prone we are to multitasking.

So in order to lessen your reactivity, avoid looking at your phone for at least an hour upon waking up in the morning. Instead, take some time to eat a good breakfast, work out to get yourself energized, or to focus on other activities that are specific to developing a more mindful approach to your work day.

The more mindful you are when it comes to tackling your tasks at work, the easier it will be to nip any tendency you have to multitask in the bud!

 

2. Update Your Priority List–

Having a clear idea in mind for the things you need to accomplish in a single day will pay off in spades when it comes to weakening the urge to multitask.

When you sit down at your desk in the morning, take a few minutes to update your priority list. What are just a few items that you need to focus on that you can reasonably do in a single day’s work? Limit yourself to just a few Big Ticket items and save the rest of your tasks for another day during the week.

The more focused time you’re able to lend to the most important items on your priority list, the more effective you’ll be in the end.

 

3. Eliminate Outside Distractions–

Pop-up notifications on our desktop, text messages, colleagues running in and out of our office, frequent trips to the water cooler… All of these wreak havoc on how effective we are when it comes to tackling our priority list!

To be a successful monotasker, it’s important that we try to limit outside distractions as much as possible.

A few ideas to limit outside distractions include: turning off pop-ups and notifications on your computer, silencing your phone, wearing noise-cancelling headphones, or posting a Do Not Disturb sign so that your colleagues know when you’re working on tasks that require your immediate attention…

Anything you can do to eliminate potential distractions, the more effective you can be overall!

 

4. Take a Break–

Monotasking requires intense focus, but how long can we possibly expect our brains to be able to focus without running the risk of burning out before the day is through?

In order to become as effective as possible, it’s important that you allow for a little bit of time in between tasks so that you can give your brain a little bit of reprieve.

Now, we talked about the importance of breaks back on Episode 082, but here is the main takeaway in regard to the idea saying goodbye to multitasking and hello to monotasking: Break time is the perfect time to indulge in some of those activities that would otherwise thwart our effectiveness on the job…

Social media, answering text messages or making a quick phone call– all of these “lesser-than” activities can be tended to during the blocks in our schedule that we allow for breaks! Seems simple enough, right?

 

5. Clean Up Your Workspace–

Let’s face it… It’s super easy to get distracted when our desk is a mess, right?

If you want to become more effective at your job, then it’s important that you have a space to work that is clean and organized.

Spend a minute or two when you first sit down at your desk to wipe down all surface areas, fill your water bottle, and ensure that you have everything you need to tackle the day’s priorities within reach.

The more prepared and organized you are when you sit down to work, the easier it will be to really dive in deep when it comes to tackling the most important items on your priority list!

 

6. Take Advantage of Apps–

If you’re someone with a bad habit of checking your social media every ten minutes, then one of the best ways you can take a step in the right (effective) direction when it comes to monotasking is to take advantage of certain apps that prevent you from being your own worst enemy as it relates to your productivity at work.

Apps like SelfControl will allow you to block your access to sites on your browser that you don’t want to be tempted to use while you’re trying to focus on work-related tasks… And if you’re someone that struggles with incessantly checking your phone, then there are apps that you can use to track (and even limit) how much time you’re spending on social media, email, and the like!

So when in doubt, look for opportunities available to you that will help you block all potential productivity-distractions out.

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Have a few tips to avoid multitasking at the office? Share them in the comments below… And tune in to Episode 118 of the podcast this week to learn all about the differences between being effective versus being efficient, and how being more effective is the REAL key to boosting your productivity!

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Tonya Dalton
Tonya Dalton