Is Multitasking Really All That Productive?

tmp_shareThe question is not a new one: how do you rise to be your most productive self and generate your best results within a 24-hour day? Multitasking (or “task switching”) has often been touted as the answer and has been highly regarded as a significant skill. As our computers and our days move faster and faster, multitasking is a beneficial way to get numerous things done while keeping up with the never-ending stack of work arriving in the inbox…right? A recent Forbes article begs the opposite argument:

Is multitasking really beneficial — OR does it actually make us more unproductive?

This is an especially important question in the world of entrepreneurs and startups where wearing multiple hats is practically required; where the elements of multitasking come out in many forms. From writing business plans and pitching for VC funding, to answering customer requests and posting social media—if multitasking isn’t the answer, as an entrepreneur, how can you strike this balance and still stay productive?

To find some answers, we asked a few members of our own thriving entrepreneurial community for tips:

  • Todd Lombardo of startup Catalytic shares his productivity tool:

One of the ways that helps keep me productive is to track my time. I use Harvest App (http://www.getharvest.com/) to track where and how much time I spend on projects. Getting into the habit took a while and sometimes I do fall out of it, but when I’m tracking everything I look back at what I did, and how much time I spent. It gives me insight on how I can stay on top of things.”

  • Anne O’Loughlin, an entrepreneur as well as Workbar’s Director of Operations shared her tip on how to stay focused when lots of projects are looming:

“I tend to have numerous browser tabs open all at the same time for different projects, which causes me to just click between tabs rather than actually getting stuff done. My solution: close out all tabs and windows except the one I’m working on, put on my headphones and focus on that one task until it is complete. I’ve accomplished more when I focus on one task at a time then the constant switching.”

More great tips on how to stay productive while juggling many tasks:

  • The One-A-Day Approach: In her article, “8 rules to stay productive when you work for yourself“, writer Adelaide Lancaster shares that one step to higher productivity is to focus on only one project task per day, along with your daily tasks (email, social media, etc.) Placing one task front and center each morning brings more focus to the day, and to finish it brings progress at the end of the day.
  • Stay Quiet: Roberta Matuson explores the relationship between quietness and productivity, showing that by just being quiet, one can stay focused, dig deeper and be a stronger leader.
  • The Pareto Principle: Geoffrey James shares how by using the principle of “80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes” you can better manage your time. With his technique, you’ll discover which items on your “to do” list really are the high priority and reorder your entire workday based on getting the best results.

So how do YOU stay productive? Do you use any of the tips and tools above?

Share your thoughts and best practices in the comments below and help us all make the most out of our productive days.

About the Author: Alison Baldyga is the Space and Community Manager at Workbar.  You can contact her at alison@workbar.com, or via twitter @themoxstopshere.

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