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How to Stop Confusing Busy with Productive

It happens before you know it. You didn’t mean to, but somehow your schedule went from 0-60 before you could choke down your morning cuppa joe.

Yeah, it can be that way with technology. For all its convenience it really can slap you in the face.

It was like you logged into your email and “BAM” there was so much staring you in the face you just thought you should tackle it all.

Right now.

Even if it’s outside of work hours. Even if it’s a bunch of stuff that doesn’t matter. Even if, even if, even if.

If this is a typical week for you, don’t be embarrassed. It happens to the best of us.

For some reason, we think that filling our lives with endless possibilities and trying to accomplish all of them at one time is a great idea. #business #possibility #multitasking Click To Tweet

Why Doing All of the Things is a Myth

For some reason, we think that filling our lives with endless possibilities and trying to accomplish all of them at one time is a great idea.

We think we can handle it because after all, we are expert multitaskers.

I get it — I can walk and chew gum at the same time. I bet you can too, but that doesn’t make either of us capable of handling everything, simultaneously.

You can check your email, listen to the latest tech podcast, and install a new program at the same time — right?

Even if you can, are sure you’re doing any of these tasks well?

Scientifically, it’s unlikely you are — but don’t feel bad since only 2.5% of people can multitask.

Just because you can complete all of those tasks within the same time frame does not mean you are accomplishing them with the purpose you intended.

According to a Standford study, multitasking is overtaxing your brain and preventing you from concentrating. In test after test, researchers found the brain functions best when it focuses on “one string of information at a time.”

In short, as humans, there’s no way we can be productive when working on more than one task at a time.

Why Multitasking Kills Productivity

It saps our energy and wastes our time. Why? Because the brain engages in a start/stop activity every time you switch from thing to thing, costing you time, which means you’re less productive.

And things go in one ear and out the other because all of the starts and stops are also exhausting.

Why do we multitask?

Because if we are busy, we believe we are productive, regardless of how tired the activity makes us feel.

If you are multitasking all day completing essential tasks, you might only be checking off a to-do list. You might be missing out on gaining new knowledge — and forget about gaining ground on your biggest business goals.

So, the next time you have a big list of things you need to accomplish, take it one task at a time.

Dammit. Mom was Right. Do One Thing at a Time.

Focus on one thing, complete it, then move onto the next.

The Pomodoro Technique is one framework for timed, absolute focus on one task at a time.

You’ll be surprised how difficult it is to focus on one thing because in this world of technological devices — phones, computers, Amazon/Google/Apple home management systems — heck even your refrigerator can start talking to you, none of us are as accustomed to quiet, focused time on one thing.

It’s easier to stay busy. It’s easier to bounce from thing to thing and cross items off a list.

But are you crossing the most important things off of your list?

Are you staying busy for the sake of staying busy rather than doing something that scares you?

Stop the Rat Race and Start Being Productive

Productive people create a structure, take breaks, and eliminate distractions. If you’re not using one already, I recommend incorporating break reminders as part of your relationship with technology.

Whether it’s an egg timer or an app, make sure you’re taking tech breaks — from your phone, computer, tablet, all of it.

If technology “isn’t your friend” today, step away. Take a walk, do something else. (Maybe meditate on why you’re personifying inanimate objects and giving technology power over you — just a thought.)

These repetitive tech frustrations add up to the false belief that you can’t or shouldn’t have anything to do with the tech side of your business.

If you want to improve your tech mindset, the first step is to get rid of the word “should” as it relates to the technical processes supporting your business.

If you feel disempowered or de-positioned by technology, or if you have tech to-do items you’ve been putting off, now is the time to stop being busy and start being productive.

What are you waiting for?

If you need help, schedule a tech turnaround session today.

Want to hear more about how to be a productive leader? Listen to this episode of the Third Paddle Podcast:

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Jennifer McFarland

Jennifer McFarland, MPA, is a technology strategist and project turnaround artist. She's nerdy enough to talk to the techies, but her real passion is helping nontechnical business owners get the technology they need to support their business vision. Her superpowers are listening, evaluating complex problems, and finding direct, simple solutions. Whether it's a database responsible for handling millions of dollars, or a small business website, Jennifer's tech agnostic, research-based solutions deliver powerful results. Her clients have experienced up to 250% increases in web traffic, and a 98% reduction in data entry. Schedule your free Tech Turnaround Session today!

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