Time Management through multitasking??

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Image courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/renneville/2939945589

Image courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/renneville/2939945589

In today’s world, all of us have to deal with multiple projects in our lives. And most of us struggle with the same question – how to effectively focus on all of these projects and ensure all of them are proceeding at the satisfying speed?

All of us are busy and experiencing skewed work life balance than our previous generations were experiencing.

A professional has tremendous work pressure in office. Mangement expects all employees to handle multiple projects and progress on all of them at satisfatory rates. Thanks to the concept of Multi tasking.

Late night meetings are norm, thanks to globalization and technological progress.

A person goes back home and his office work is yet not finished.

Life of businessman or a freelancer is also not easy. Thanks to the economy and low cost competition from all sides. Everyone has to take multiple assignments and projects.

That leaves us with stay at home moms… and some of the readers would think that they are the luckiest bunch. Reconsider your thoughts… they might be even busier than a working professional. Thanks to changing social priorities, economic conditions, nuclear families and stress.

So how do we manage time?

I would suggest a contrarian approach to manage time.

First of all go back in your memory and find a day when you think you managed your time very well. If you are not able to find such day then try to find one or two hours on some other day you were managing your time very well.

What were you doing. What were you seeing, hearing and feeling that time.

Repeat the above exercise two or three times with different days. You may switch the time horizon as well… maybe you want to consider a week or a month in one of the iterations. Or maybe you want to switch to the hourly time frame for one of these instances.

What was happening in all these situations? Were you making progress on all the fronts in your lives? The answer would be NO in most of the cases.

Why were then we considering that we were managing our times very well

The answer is that the time management is psychological. It is a feeling that we get when we are very effective in getting some output or we zone into a altered state while doing some work (like I am feeling right now as I am writing this post).

And once that activity is over and you come back to the normal state you feel you have managed your time very well.

Hence my approach would be to try to zone into this space again and again while working on various projects of your lives.

For this it is important that you focus on only one activity/task in one of the projects at a time.

This means that when you are in office, you should focus on only one activity in one of the projects.

Turn off the distrations. Close the outlook and browsers unless your work activity requires them. Close all unnecessary applications.

Start working on the activity. Recall one of the times when you had zoned into the “space” and feel yourself drifting into the space. Let the space pull you towards it.

After you are done with the activity you would feel tremendous sense of achievement and you would feel you have managed your time well.

Do this for all projects in your life… on personal, professional, recreational, social contribution related projects…. mantra is turn off all the distrations and get in the zone.

I understand you would be asking about what about multitasking?

My take is that human mind is not made for multitasking (especially male mind). What management is calling multitasking is actually rapidly switching between one taks and other.

Don’t get trapped by multitasking buzzword. Some jobs need them but most of the jobs don’t.

But how to handle management?

The answer is that after focussing on your activities in above manner your output would be so high that you would appear to be multitasking at highest speed anyone has seen ever. You would be achieving far more in all fronts of your lives than your colleagues and friends.

And above all you would be able to focus on things that actually matter in your lives.

Note: You may also like this post about how to find more time in your life.

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4 replies
  1. Michael
    Michael says:

    Thanks for the post. Multitasking is most abused buzzword in industry. I have lost a lot on personal front while trying to comply with the multi-tasking requirements of my bosses. I have now given up on multitasking and follow zen like approach of focusing only on single task at hand. I would say I am much more productive now than ever.

    • nareshksingh
      nareshksingh says:

      Thanks Michael. Yes the management is using the word without actually understanding that multitasking word came into computer industry from kitchen when ladies while working in kitchen could do secondary things when their primary work didn’t need attention. This is how the multitasking is implemented in computers…. the computer seems to do multitasking but all the while all it is doing is switching between processes.
      But things go in different directions when it comes to management…. whenever they are overwhelmed with tasks they offload them to already overloaded employees and want them to multitask…. computers can do multiswitching with less overhead… however human beings have their limitations… they loose focus while switching between tasks….. the analogy I am thinking about is that
      “if in case of the computer it takes just shifting gears while switching between tasks, in case of human beings it means applying and releasing brakes along with switching the gears”

  2. Aashica
    Aashica says:

    Nice article Naresh. What you say is absolutely right. When i am actually getting things done – i usually have a razor-sharp focus on that activity -zoning into that activity as you say.

    • nareshksingh
      nareshksingh says:

      Thanks a lot Aashica for the comment. Yes razor sharp focus is all that individuals need to have peak performance. Once in an interview Warren Buffett and Bill Gates were asked same question about what would they like to improve on in their lives if they have a choice…. both of them gave same answer – “FOCUS”.

      That is how they were able to build empires, by focussing … not by multitasking :)

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