There is always talk of living a balanced life can be succeeded by multitasking. Having a good balance between your work and home life, and even a balance of responsibilities in both places is not always possible. Studies show this is not a practical approach. Instead, we should live intentionally unbalanced all the time and focus on one thing. This means that you must give up certain tasks in your home life and in your work life because balancing too many things at once will hinder your success.
The reason is simple. We have learned that multitasking is actually a horrible idea because it is the killer of productivity. The human mind can only focus on one thing at a time and do it well, and every time we shift focus we lose efficiency and clarity because we have to shift back when we return to the previous tasks. The more tasks we have going on at once, the worse this gets for us.
Multitasking usually happens when we are trying to balance too many things at once. Ignoring the noise and focusing instead means that being intentionally unbalanced in that moment or period of time, and moving to another state of imbalance when we start the next task. This may seem counter intuitive, but actually very effective.
One Thing At A Time
This mentality of one thing at a time takes away from the glorification of busy, and the bragging rights that seem to come with multi-tasking. But the real results of that behavior is that some things, in fact many things, don’t get done as well as they should. They end up being mediocre.The alternative is to focus on one thing at a time, and doing it well. This means that your results in each area will be better. This means of course that some small things will get neglected along the way.
For instance, if you are creating a website, there are dozens of tasks that must be completed. You must choose your domain name, determine how you will handle hosting, create graphics and content, establish good SEO practices, and market your site in a number of ways.You could do all of those things yourself, but you probably cannot do all of them equally well. You have strengths, and others do too. You need to delegate or outsource, and focus only on the things you do best.
Focusing on doing your best rather than what you can just do well, or even just complete means everything you do will rise to another level of quality and efficiency. Collaboration will become a necessary part of everyday operations if you focus on one thing at a time, but in the long run that will benefit everyone.
In a practical sense, what does that look like at work? While the formula sounds simple, it gets complex quickly. Why? You have a lot to do as an entrepreneur, and some of it cannot simply be left behind. Many times, you will be called upon to make key decisions, and those times may not come at a time when you are not doing anything else. How do you keep your focus when everyone is demanding your immediate attention?
- Don’t be afraid to say, “not now.” Even though something may seem like a crisis to someone else, most of the time it can wait half an hour or until you are free. Feel free to say, “not now” to certain decisions, and let the person asking know they will have to wait.
- Empower others to make decisions. Another simple way to avoid the immediate decision dilemma is to enable your employees and those who work with you to make decisions on their own without your input. You hired them because they are smart and talented, let them use those qualities to free up your time.
- Endorse Failure and Learning from It. This Empowerment is going to result in failure from time to time. Things will not always be done exactly as you want them too, and people will make mistakes. Make those failures about learning and moving forward, and don’t associate it with shame. Your business will be stronger, and so will your relationships.
- Allow Yourself Freedom to Break Focus. If there is a crisis, if there is a decision you must make, allow yourself to break focus for things that really do matter. Never multi-taking will never be a perfect system, so you need to work within the imperfection.
Work focus can be challenging, and you may not always succeed. That is a tough position to be in, but by setting strong boundaries you can avoid a large number of interruptions centered around things that are not really a priority so you can focus on what is.
Focus at home needs to follow the same principles, but it is of course different. One of the primary things is to not let work invade your home life. When you are at home and off the clock, be present.
At the same time, your home life will have priorities from time to time as well. One day might be focused on time with your partner or spouse to maintain your relationship, and another might be dedicated to cleaning the gutters and preparing the house for winter.
Both of those things matter, and on any given day might even matter equally, but you have to focus on one at a time, so that you can give your partner and your kids the attention they deserve (if that is your situation).
The Real Deal with Multitasking
The real deal with multi-tasking is that it takes away from our focus, it makes us inefficient, and it means we are sacrificing quality for quantity. That never produces the best results. While we may never achieve perfection, we also should never settle for less than the best we can do in that moment.
Staying focused on one thing, whether at work or at home means we will be better at everything we do, and living intentionally unbalanced will bring us greater success.
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