multi-tasking http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/10312/all en-US 6 Habits of Highly Productive People http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/6-habits-of-highly-productive-people <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/6-habits-of-highly-productive-people" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/6-habits-of-highly-productive-people</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/6-habits-of-highly-productive-people" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000015333721Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>What behaviors define the highly productive? What habits, philosophies, and <a target="_blank" href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/lifestyle/article/creating-productive-workspaces-1">strategies</a> make some people consistently more productive than others? First, let&rsquo;s figure out exactly what we mean by &ldquo;productive.&rdquo; Too often, productivity gets conflated with simply being busy. But that&rsquo;s only part of the story. True productivity means not only getting work done; it means getting the right work done most efficiently. We may labor all day through a series of tasks, but have we completed high-impact work (i.e., has our effort produced results or merely shuffled the paperwork)?</p> <p>Highly productive individuals can focus on results-driven work because they&rsquo;ve distinguished productivity from &ldquo;busy-ness.&rdquo; Often the first step in smart productivity is eliminating the &ldquo;task-noise&rdquo; that drains time and resources. Think of it this way: The person who answers 100 emails in three hours may be busy, but the person who takes 20 minutes to create an auto-responder or a filter that reduces email volume permanently, has been productive.</p> <p>So how do you transform busy-ness into productivity?</p> <h2>1. Embrace Simplicity</h2> <p>Simplicity drives true productivity. Think about the small, relatively inconsequential tasks that compete for your attention every day. What can be eliminated, automated, delegated, or relegated to the back-burner? Productive individuals ruthlessly root out those tasks that compete for their time and sap their resources. Maybe you have a staff of five or ten employees that call you throughout the day with small issues. Is there a qualified leader on the team that can field those questions? Is it time to train and empower each employee to make more decisions independently?</p> <h2>2. Manage Distractions</h2> <p>The forces of our hyper-connected, 24/7 world offers us amazing opportunities to engage&mdash;and even more opportunities to become distracted. The truly productive understand the threat of distraction in all its forms and create clear boundaries between the task-at-hand and the host of diversions that vie for their attention. Whether the distractions are work or play, establishing a &ldquo;sacred space&rdquo; for what you&rsquo;re doing is key in becoming more productive.</p> <h2>3. Bend Activities around Inspiration</h2> <p>No strategy can match the motivation that comes from being inspired. Productive individuals understand this and leave their schedules flexible enough to identify and respond to inspiration. Though inspiration doesn&rsquo;t always come and we often have to force ourselves to complete some tasks, knowing how to leverage those motivated moments can transform our work experience, cut the time investment, and improve the quality of what&rsquo;s produced.</p> <h2>4. Seize Small Blocks of Time</h2> <p>What would get done if you waited until you had enough time? Productive people understand that small blocks of time used wisely can whittle away at projects large and small. Whether it&rsquo;s 15 minutes before work or an hour during a commute, being ready (read: organized) to seize the moment can make all the difference.</p> <h2>5. Make Lists and Set Goal Paths</h2> <p>Highly productive individuals understand that<b> </b>every goal, no matter how small is driven by smaller supporting goals. Dissecting this dependency and flow is essential to creating sound goal paths.</p> <p>If you want to change careers, that goal may be driven by several smaller goals like going back to school, improving your networking skills, updating your resume, or getting a new certification. And each of these smaller goals is supported by even more granular sub-goals. Creating daily &ldquo;To Do&rdquo; lists is perhaps the most common way we identify each of these mini goals and understand how they fit into the bigger picture. Productive people tend to be ardent list-makers and are motivated by accomplishing the small daily tasks that, over time, drive larger achievement.</p> <h2>6. Multitask&hellip;Sometimes</h2> <p>Multitasking gets a lot of good press in modern corporate culture. The willingness and ability to juggle five or ten tasks simultaneously is almost assumed, and most employees are trained to be circus performers early on. But what subtleties of concentration, recall and quality are lost as we indiscriminately multitask?</p> <p>The truly productive realize that multitasking can be useful at times and utterly ineffective at others. Choose your occasion carefully. For those jobs that don&rsquo;t require creative problem solving, interpersonal communication, attention to detail, or quick response times, multitasking works great (but what exactly are those jobs?). The rest of the time, embrace the long-forgotten &ldquo;mono-tasking&rdquo;&mdash;it&rsquo;ll boost the quality of your work, reduce your stress, help your communication skills and ultimately, make you more productive.</p> <p>In the end, productivity is one part old-fashioned discipline and one part smart strategy. Organizing our lives so that we optimize our chances of being productive is half the battle. Once we see results and start to build traction, the strategies become habit and we open ourselves up to a life that&rsquo;s powered by smarter time management, more focused work, and greater personal and professional achievement.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/6-habits-of-highly-productive-people">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/actually-get-things-done-creating-a-reasonable-to-do-list">Actually Get Things Done: Creating a Reasonable To-Do List</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-benefits-of-being-a-night-owl">13 Benefits of Being a Night Owl</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-save-time-by-spending-it">10 Ways to Save Time by Spending Time</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-best-productivity-apps-for-really-busy-people-like-you">The 10 Best Productivity Apps for Really Busy People Like You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-helpful-tools-to-manage-your-small-business">6 Helpful Tools to Manage Your Small Business</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Productivity Small Business Resource Center busy-ness getting things done mono-tasking multi-tasking small business time management todo lists Thu, 13 Oct 2011 21:51:07 +0000 Kentin Waits 717157 at http://www.wisebread.com 3 Scary Truths about Multi-Tasking (and 5 Ways to Stop) http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/3-scary-truths-about-multi-tasking-and-5-ways-to-stop <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/3-scary-truths-about-multi-tasking-and-5-ways-to-stop" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/3-scary-truths-about-multi-tasking-and-5-ways-...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/3-scary-truths-about-multi-tasking-and-5-ways-to-stop" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000001898776Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="135" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You&rsquo;ve probably heard the joke about what happens as you get older: &ldquo;Memory is the first thing to go; I forget what the second thing is.&rdquo; It turns out memory loss may not be the reason you&rsquo;re standing in the garage trying to remember why you went out there, or why you spent $200 at the grocery store and neglected to pick up the lettuce you went there for in the first place. It&rsquo;s not the years, it&rsquo;s the tasks.</p> <h3>Multi-Tasking Slows You Down</h3> <p>In a recent study by researchers at France&rsquo;s National Institute of Health, the brains of subjects given a single, goal-oriented task showed activity in both frontal lobes. When a second task was added, the brain split the focus. One task was handled by the left side, the other by the right. But guess what happened when a third task was added? One of the first two areas of activity disappeared. Not only that, the subjects&rsquo; responses slowed down and they made more mistakes.</p> <p>Now think about your typical office day. You&rsquo;re desperate to get that memo off to your team before the end of the day. While you type, your email notifier allerts you that messages are waiting, so you look at the summary list, then the phone rings and, of course, you take it, along with the text message you just received. All this on top of the usual visual, verbal, and other sensory noise that&rsquo;s part of the everyday cacophony.</p> <p>No wonder we&rsquo;re exhausted at the end of the day and often have little to show for our effort.</p> <h3>Multi-Tasking is Distracting</h3> <p>It used to be that when the phone rang and you weren&rsquo;t in the office, the caller just left a message with your secretary (as they were called back then). She (infrequently, he) would then decide whether or not it was important enough to interrupt you. These days, most of us are our own secretaries. The filter is gone and while we can choose whether or not to answer a particular call, email, or text, just making that decision requires multi-tasking. It reduces our attention to whatever our pre-frontal cortex was doing before the interruption, and studies show it can cause us to be as much as 40% less productive.</p> <h3>Multi-Tasking Makes You Less Engaged</h3> <p>&ldquo;If I&rsquo;m so disengaged from a phone call that I can check my email at the same time, then I should probably excuse myself and call back when I&rsquo;m more focused or I shouldn&rsquo;t have agreed to the call in the first place,&rdquo; says Laura Vanderkam, author of <a target="_blank" href="http://www.my168hours.com/"><span>168 Hours &ndash; You Have More Time Than You Think</span></a>. &ldquo;Sure, it&rsquo;s less &lsquo;productive&rsquo; to single-task. But productivity is a tricky thing. If you don&rsquo;t check your iPhone in the deli line, you may just have to check it at some other point (like, oh, 5 minutes later). If you say hello to the woman who makes your sandwich, however, and ask how she&rsquo;s doing, she&rsquo;ll probably give you extra pickles next time. That sounds like a productive use of 30 seconds to me!&rdquo;</p> <p>Multi-tasking doesn&rsquo;t stop when you leave the office, either. We do it with our spouses, our children, everyone. And just like at the office, those interactions suffer as a result.</p> <h3>5 Ways to Stop the Noise</h3> <p>So how do you maximize your limited attention span? Here&rsquo;s how:</p> <p><b>Schedule some unplugged time</b>. Like they say on Southwest airlines, &ldquo;if it has an O-N / O-F-F switch, it should be in the O-F-F position.&rdquo;</p> <p><b>Put technology in its place</b>. It&rsquo;s supposed to work for you, not the other way around. Use instant responders or voicemail to communicate, even if you&rsquo;re available, so you can decide what to do and when.</p> <p><b>Use a variety of synchronous</b> (e.g. face-to-face, instant chat, phone calls) <b>and asynchronous</b> (e.g. email, forum posts) <b>mediums to prioritize communications</b>. For example, if it&rsquo;s urgent, call. If it&rsquo;s not, email.</p> <p><b>Lead by example</b>. If you constantly interrupt your co-workers, calling them on weekends and at night, or otherwise make your priorities theirs, you&rsquo;re sending them a message that that&rsquo;s what you expect in return.</p> <p><b>Be in the moment</b>. Focus on giving your full attention to what&rsquo;s important rather than what&rsquo;s in front of you, ringing in your ear, vibrating in your pocket, or doing the bouncy thing on your computer screen.</p> <p>Just remember: Take care of those frontal lobes and they&rsquo;ll take care of you.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kate-lister">Kate Lister</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/3-scary-truths-about-multi-tasking-and-5-ways-to-stop">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-helpful-tools-to-manage-your-small-business">6 Helpful Tools to Manage Your Small Business</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-exercise-in-under-5-minutes">15 Ways to Exercise in Under 5 Minutes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/100-ways-to-make-more-money-this-year">100+ Ways to Make More Money This Year</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Productivity Small Business Resource Center multi-tasking office distractions single-tasking small business Fri, 15 Jul 2011 21:40:52 +0000 Kate Lister 611287 at http://www.wisebread.com