It has been said that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. That’s probably true for tasks, too. You’ll get from start to finish a lot easier without detours. Is there a secret to staying on task? There probably isn’t a one size fits all approach, but there are some good places to start. Give these three tips a try and adjust for your work style as needed. You may just find that you have fewer detours and more “dones” on your to-do list.
According to mindful.org, “…contrary to the popular myth that multitasking helps us get more done and be more efficient, research shows that multitasking on the job diminishes both our efficiency and the quality of our work. Even worse, multitasking releases the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which can lead to all kinds of health problems.”
Doing double duty may feel more efficient, but studies show this isn’t the case. Switching between tasks slows you down because the brain is only able to handle one processing job at a time. Switching gears in between slows performance and may reduce accuracy. You’ll also be pulled out of peak concentration, which increases your vulnerability to distractions. Instead, give one-pointed attention to the task at hand and then move onto the next one.
Begin by choosing the task you intend to accomplish. Decide how much time you will devote to it. Resolve to identify every single action by only two categories: task and not task. If the activity counts as task – green light. Give it your all during the allotted time. If the activity counts as not task – red light. It is off limits during the allotted time. No exceptions. If this feels too challenging, start with small time increments, set a timer for 15 minutes. Gradually extend the time as you become more skillful at staying on task. Offer yourself a reward when you stick to the plan. The brain has tremendous capacity to learn new habits and make new associations. With patience and practice, this strategy will become automatic.
Chefs set up mise en place (everything in place) in preparation for cooking a meal. Such a habit is also important in an office setting. Start the task with everything you need on hand so you can devote time and energy to getting it done, rather than getting out of your seat. Stepping away from your desk for even a moment will challenge your ability to stay on task. Bindertek has all the supplies you need to work more efficiently. From desk carousels and letter trays to QuickFile folders and binders, we make it easy to keep everything you need in order and on hand.
Try these habits to stay on task and get more of what you’ve got to do…done.