4 Steps to Overcome Multi-Tasking Madness

By on July 1, 2015

Multi-tasking is a topic I seem to have to address with some regularity because I keep running across this scenario: Last week I had a conversation with a self-proclaimed multi-tasking champion! Not just an expert, but a Champion! Wow. So many people think that in order to be productive and efficient, you have to learn how to multi-task. I’m not sure where this came from, maybe it’s been ingrained in us from a young age, maybe we feel the pressure to multi-task because of all of our (wonderful!) technology gadgets. But I’m going to say it again and very loudly, MULTI-TASKING IS DANGEROUS. Yep, there, I said it.

The compulsive need to multi-task is a common problem I see with those I coach. The fact is multi-tasking takes away your focus from the thing you’re doing at the moment. Your full attention is taken away; your mind is split between two or more different things. And when you do that, you’re not really concentrating on doing any one specific task well. And when that happens in your investing business, dangerous things can result.

Think about these questions for a moment: Are you really accomplishing anything when you’re trying to do three things at once? Do you find yourself starting tasks but never quite finishing them? Do you forget what you were actually doing before you jumped over to something different? Is it taking you longer than it should to handle certain tasks? If you’re being honest with yourself and the answer to these questions is a hearty “yes,” then you’re suffering from multi-tasking madness.

Multi-tasking madness tends to be rampant in new business owners and new real estate investors. It’s also probably a contributing factor to why so many of those new ventures fail in the first year. Craig Jarrow, author of the book Time Management Ninja, wrote a blog post on the art of finishing what you start. He sums up the power of focus in one simple statement: “Lots of people come up with great business ideas. Few people actually make a business a success.” That’s super powerful, to be successful you have to know how to finish what you started.

This is not the first time I’ve addressed this topic in this blog, but it’s something that keeps coming up, so let me go through my advice for ending multi-tasking madness one more time. Let’s look at four steps you can take toward focusing more on the single task at hand for better productivity and more success.

1. Get it all out of your head. This focus tool was made famous by David Allen, author of the bestselling book Getting Things Done. His principle is simple – when you get all of the data out of your head you can actually focus on what you’re doing. Joanne Cantor, author of Conquer Cyber Overload, says that the brain’s working memory is limited to seven items at any given time, and when we have more than seven bits of info “in our brain’s inbox, the brain struggles to figure out what to keep and what to disregard.”

2. Turn off the distractions. Smartphones started killing off more of our brain cells when the developers introduced multitasking. You can listen to music, read your email and get texts all at the same time! It’s great, wonderful and making us a bunch of zombies. There have been countless reports about how smartphones and tablets are hurting our attention spans. Instead, focus on what you’re doing. Put your phone down, turn off the alerts, set aside Twitter. It will take some discipline and maybe a bit of retraining, but the better you can remove distractions, the more focused and productive you’ll become.

3. Process your info at scheduled intervals. You still have to deal with your emails, voicemails, social media, etc. But rather than doing it all at once, assign regularly scheduled intervals to tackle these things. You really can get it done within about a 10-minute span once an hour or every two hours.

4. Distinguish between projects and tasks. Projects and tasks are different. Steven Slaunwhite, author of The Wealthy Freelancer, distinguishes a task as something takes less than 20 minutes and a project as something that takes multiple work sessions. For large projects, such as planning your investment strategy, he recommends that you work in “50-minute focus sessions.” All you do for 50 minutes is focus on your project. Focusing on what you’re doing and minimizing the distractions is going to help you make that forward progress in turning your investing dreams into reality.

Read more at theinvestorinsights.com

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