Do you love multitasking and consider it the most efficient way to get things done? Well, if you do, it’s time to change your ways.
That’s because countless studies have found that both the quality and quantity of work suffers when people do multiple things at once. Just take research from the University of Michigan that found that multitasking can consume up to 40 percent of your productive time. Other research has found that multitaskers are worse at filtering out information, are slower to identify patterns and have diminished long-term memory.
A better approach is to do one thing at a time. For example, in the 1990s, the psychologist K. Anders Ericsson began researching how people become experts. To do so, he went to Berlin, Germany, to study violinists at the prestigious Global Music Academy.
Ericsson asked each violinist to write a diary of their practice. He then studied the diaries and found that every one of them practiced for 50 hours a week. However, each of them used that time differently. The people who went on to become international soloists spent more time than the lower performers trying to master one specific goal, and they achieved greater focus as a result.
Or consider Dr. Bob Kocher, a successful venture capitalist in health care who also works as a health care economist and Stanford professor. How has he accomplished so much?
He compartmentalizes. In other words, he divides tasks into categories and gives each activity or goal his singular focus, a practice that can clearly be seen in his daily interactions. The moment you enter a room with Dr. Bob it’s clear that he’s fully with you. He’s entirely undistracted by his email, his phone or anything else. He gives you the same amount of attention as he would the president of the United States, or to any other task or person.