As my “to do” list grows, I've had a few epiphanies:
- Everything can't be done in a day
- Checking email, Twitter, Facebook, Buzzfeed…etc. is a reflex
- Multitasking sucks
I'm not going to tell everyone to work harder, or wake up earlier. We all work hard, everyone is busy! What's worse, is it's impossible to do it all, especially in one day. We can try. Often times by “multitasking” tacking several things at one time in an attempt to get everything done in time.
The truth is, humans really can't multi-task…
The truth is, humans really can't multi-task, unless one task is automatic like walking and eating, and/or if the tasks use different parts of the brain. Checking email and writing posts actually requires the same part of the brain (even writing and listening to music with lyrics). According to Psychology Today, it's called “Serial Tasking” doing different tasks in a rapid succession. It's an ineffective way to work. Kids who do their homework while watching TV do worse than kids doing their homework without distractions.
Even though we may not actually be watching TV… the internet can distract us just as easily, and what's worse, it can even be described as “work.”
How often do you sit at your computer thinking, “I really have to focus and get this done.” and 5 minutes later, you're checking email, Twitter and Facebook? Then 20 minutes later… your stats on your blog? Your RSS reader? It's “for work,” right? A job that might have taken 30 minutes to accomplish now takes 2 hours. Where did the time go?
Focus on one thing at a time
Cut out the clutter. Cut out the noise. Give every task it's deserved and full attention. Even when you're checking email…check your email, respond, then close it out. When you're on Twitter, really be there.
For example, when you're writing a post…
- Close your tabs. Only your CMS tab should be open, and any tab that you are referring to in that post.
- Turn off your music. Unless it's music with no lyrics.
- Close your email and any other distracting sites. If you find yourself subconsciously opening these tabs, there are browser apps like Chrome Nanny and LeechBlock which block these sites for you.
- Put your phone away, or better yet, turn it off. If your phone has push notifications, this can be distracting, and you'd might as well have your Twitter page open… so put it away.
You'll be amazed how much faster your posts get finished this way.
Schedule your tasks
If you can, set aside a time of day for your tasks. I schedule my post writing for 10am-12pm and 4pm-6pm every day. It helps when there is a bulk of work to do to have these times set aside, because there is finite period of time to complete the tasks.
Be gentle with yourself
If you can't get everything done today, don't stress. Just focus on the important things to do on your list, and get those things done. I used to keep insane “to do” lists, and not everything would be done, things would get pushed to the next day, then the next day and eventually fall off. If something falls off your list, it probably wasn't important enough to do anyway, so don't stress.
There is always tomorrow.
[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]