As professionals, we feel a need to present the facade that we are busy people. Busy, in our minds, relates to getting work done, taking on a lot, feeling needed, making a difference, and, overall, being successful.
But as many people find out, there are two kinds of busy: using “busy” as a cover for being overwhelmed and being busy efficiently, by “Many-Tasking.”
Busy as a Cover
Longs hours and being busy for the sake of busy are indicative of inefficiencies and false business syndrome.
As professionals, we want to contribute. We need to be involved and often we end up biting off more than we can chew. In the end, we put in longer hours but don’t really accomplish anything. We just spin our wheels like a mouse in a cage.
First off, our brains aren’t made to work on anything for longer than 120 minutes. While sleep or awake, our brain has a cycle called the ultradian rhythm that moves from higher to lower alertness in 90 minute cycles. Then it takes a rest.
Optimal efficiency would be working on a task for 90 minutes, taking a break, then moving back to that task or something else. Working extended hours to get something done would result in lesser quality.
Not to mention, working more hours could actually hurt you. A University College London study found that working more than 55 hours a week increases your risk of stroke by 33% compared with those who work a 35- to-40-hour week.
Instead of putting in longer hours, using the time you have during a normal day will increase effectiveness and deliver better results.
The New Multitasking
Let’s just put this out there: multitasking doesn’t really work. Doing multiple things at once just doesn’t get a lot done.
Recently, research at Stanford University found that multitasking fails: you are less productive than if you were doing a single thing at a time. As humans, being hit with information from multiple sources, we struggle to pay attention, recall properly, or switch from one task to another. It’s overwhelming.
Armed with the knowledge our brains are wired to work in chunks of 90 minutes, the new multitasking isn’t doing many things at once, it’s doing many things in a row with breaks in between. It’s Many-Tasking.
At the end of the day, you ll feel you’ve gotten a lot accomplished without feeling overwhelmed.
Fill that Pipeline
Like many, I have a long backlog of things I need to do. When I try to do them all at once, nothing gets done. I use Many-Tasking, I can fill that pipeline in a day and start knocking tasks out. Using a list-making app like Evernote or Google Keep and planning my day in chunks, I can get a lot done in one day.
Many-Tasking allows me to focus on one task at a time and deliver the highest levels of quality while getting a lot done.
Let s be busy, but make it manageable.