Option one: Accept that many tasks must be dismissed due to lack of time or inconvenient timing and focus on a single task at a time.
Option two: Develop a method of multitasking so as to maximize the number of tasks that can be completed, regardless of their timing.
Choosing the Second Option
To the entrepreneur, multitasking often seems like something that must be done. Without it, simply too many opportunities would fall through the cracks which would in turn hurt the business significantly. Yet research shows that, although multitasking is a highly coveted skill or attribute, the practice can actually make us less productive while damaging our brain. In her article Forget Multitasking. Real Productivity Comes From Singletasking, Lisa Evans explains that what we are really doing when we multitask is called “task switching.” Biologically, our brain is only meant to focus on one thing at a time, and when we rapidly switch tasks it “not only lowers productivity by 40 percent but it also shrinks our brains.” With this in mind, how come some people claim that multitasking is a good thing, and claim that they can do it well?
It Can Be Good for Some, Just Not For Everyone
Not everyone has the ability to successfully juggle multiple tasks at the same time. And as we just learned, our productivity can be lowered by 40 percent while doing so. So what does this mean when correlated to entrepreneurship? With so many entrepreneurs claiming a gift of multitasking, is there something special going on here and does it mean that entrepreneurship is not possible for people who choose to “singe-task”? Of course not. Perhaps hiring an assistant may be a great option that keeps things from falling through the proverbial cracks. In his book, It’s a Jungle in There, Steven Schussler points out that he is a natural multi-tasker, and that it is a “special talent.” This of course implies that since multitasking is a special talent, not all of us will possess it. In other words, some of us are better at task switching than others which in turn impacts our businesses in varying degrees.
So Which Is It?
The answer may very well be that in some cases it depends, but by and large, focusing on a single task at a time is a healthier approach to productivity. Some experts recommend “stacking” as an alternative to multitasking. This involves the paring of two activities where only one requires active mental engagement. Listening to a song while working out is stacking, while eating a meal while talking to a friend is as well. By implementing this technique, we will be able to tap into the ability of our brain to think deeply about a single subject at a time. And in the end, it may turn out that catching the deep details of a situation is more important than lightly switching from task to task – a habit that is more detrimental than we used to believe.
Evans, Lisa (2015). Forget Multitasking. Real Productivity Comes From Singletasking. Entrepreneur.com. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/247833
Mandossian, Alex (2009). Is Multitasking Killing You As An Entrepreneur? FinerMinds.com. Retrieved from http://www.finerminds.com/career-entrepreneurship/multi-tasking-productivity/
Shussler, Steven (2010). It’s a Jungle in There. Newyork, NY: Sterling Publishing