The Latest Information on Productivity
With people getting busier and facing increasing demands on their time, at work and at home, there has been a movement towards utilising multi-tasking wherever you can. In theory, being able to do two, three or more jobs at one time should save you time but there are also doubts over the actual benefits of behaving in this behaviour. There are also doubts about multi-tasking itself.
There is a growing acceptance that what we refer to as multi-tasking is actually task-switching. Doing two separate tasks in a short time period isn’t actually multi-tasking when you do one, stop and switch to another and then move back and forth between the roles. If you can do one role, such as allow eggs to boil in a pot, while placing bread into a toaster, this is actually working in parallel as opposed to physically working on two separate tasks at once.
Some people will argue that switching between tasks helps to keep you interested but according to Guy Winch PhD, the author of a specialist book on psychological injuries, the brain is only able to deal with a finite level of productivity and attention. Switching between tasks wastes energy and attention on the act of switching and it prevents people from getting into the zone and becoming fully focused.
Winch also discusses the fact that multi-tasking actually loses time while focusing on one task helps you to save time because you maintain the same mind-set for all of your related tasks. Other negative elements associated with multi-tasking include:
- An increase in the number of mistakes you feel
- It can raise your stress levels
- You can miss out on sights or incidents
- A University of California San Francisco study from 2011 suggests that it impairs your memory
- It can make you less attentive to others and it can even cause you to eat more
However, the strongest reason against multi-tasking is that we aren’t very good at it. There is a growing acceptance that to work in the most effective and productive manner, instead it is best to group similar tasks together. A good example of this would be to consider the job hunting process. There are probably three main steps in the job hunting process:
- Look for jobs
- Create a covering letter and compile it with your CV
- Submit your application
The natural order may be to look for jobs and then when you find a job, create your covering letter, compile it with your CV and then send it off.
Instead of following the process step-by-step it may be that a more suitable use of your time to focus only on job searches in one session or day and creating a list of jobs that are relevant to you. Taking a note of any approaching deadlines would be of benefit but by focusing on the job searching process you will likely have a more focused approach. This will help you to rank the jobs in order of suitability and importance better than finding one job and then carrying out other tasks before
returning to the job searching process. Uncovering various jobs at one time can help you to rank these jobs in importance.
The next day or session should be focused on creating cover letters and CVs for the jobs you have selected. You will benefit by being in a focused frame of mind and as many of the aspects you want to include will be the same; you’ll feel that it is possible to update your covering letters and CVs in a faster rate. Note that you’re simply matching CV to job descriptions and not yet submitting the application. By separating this step each application has your individual attention and you can appropriately tailor your CV.
Once you have compiled all of your applications, you can submit them. If this is by email, you will save time by being constantly at your computer and in your email programme or if it is by physical mail, you can send off all of your applications at the same time.
When it comes to improving productivity, you’ll find that collating similar jobs together is a more effective use of your time.