While you may think that multitasking allows you to accomplish more in less time, it’s quite the contrary, says Devora Zack, author of Singletasking: Get More Done—One Thing at a Time. “The brain is hardwired to only do one thing at a time,” she says—and many other studies back her claims.
Instead, follow these rules to ramp up your productivity:
Stop being available to all people at all times. This applies just as much to your personal life as it does to your professional life. When you are meeting with someone, give that your full attention.
That means turning off your phone, PC or other device and concentrating only on the person in front of you, to move conversations along. Besides, simultaneously checking texts and emails during a meeting signals that other people are more important.
Put an end to working lunches. Take your break! Go somewhere away from your desk, don’t work on tasks—even small ones, such as reading email—and enjoy your lunch or some other activity alone.
Eating with co-workers often turns into gripe sessions about work, and won’t allow you to truly unplug, so it’s ideal to give yourself at least 15 minutes of alone time. If you prefer to eat with co-workers, at least agree to curb all work talk until the break is over.
Reward total focus during meetings. When attendees are consistently checking their phones or laptops and responding to messages, they miss key information that you must repeat. That lengthens the meeting and wastes everyone’s time.
Establish a rule that all meetings will be device-free. Then cut meetings short as a reward. For example, by saying “Because you all focused on the agenda, we can wrap up this meeting now.”
— Adapted from “How to Finally Quit Multitasking in These Five Daily Activities,” Moira Lawler, Fast Company, www.fastcompany.com.