If you work in an office environment you are aware of how frequent texts interrupt work. We've all heard the adage of "multi tasking" however recent studies uncover that its highly inefficient. In fact, it is found that a more accurate term is "task switching, not multi tasking".
Task switching : So what's the harm in frequent texts?
- takes more time to get the same tasks completed than if you just focused on one at a time. Its been reported that you loose up to 40% by task switching.
- error rates soar when you switch between two tasks
- brain scans show that when you switch task it works the brain harder in a bad way. These scans show the pre-frontal cortex is involved to shift tasks, the posterior parietal lobe activates rules for each task you switch to, the anterior cingulate gyrus monitors errors and the pre motor cortex is preparing you to move your body even if its not required for that task but it goes on alert after shifting your task
What's a better way? Batch Processing
A more efficient way of working is in batch processing. By batch processing you simply focus on an activity until you have completely finished it and then you shift to the next task such as texting. But here's the problem.... With texting, you do not have a captive audience. People tend to become easily distracted in today's society or maybe they are a habitual task switcher subjugating you to their inefficient work style. Below are some tips on how YOU as a task switcher can improve.
Tip 1: To set up complex plans for lunch or the weekend pick up the phone. Calls are faster than the back and forth texting.
Tip 2: Don’t check your phone as soon as a message comes in. If it were urgent they would call. Finish your existing task or set of tasks and when you check your phone do so with the intent of responding.
Tip 3: When you engage to respond, continue to respond until the conversation is completed. If you need to end the conversation tell them you’ve got a pressing matter and end the conversation.
Tip 4: If the other person has a lull in communication simply move on to another task and do not go back to the texting until that task is completed. This reduces your task switching while simultaneously teaching others that when they’ve got you to stick with you through the conversation. Remember, you teach people how to treat you.
Tip 4: Reduce talk /text times by making proposals. I propose we meet at 10 or 2pm on either Tuesday or Thursday next week. 90% of the time the other person will respond. Or... I propose we eat at Thai or Italian at either 12 or 12:30 on Tuesday.
Tip 5: Let friends and family know that you exercise batch processing and remind them that if its urgent to call you. You can give them your work number too. Put simply, Emails are less important than texts, texts are less important than calls .
Tip 6: Silence or turn off social media notifications. Social media notifications are for people who have a need for acceptance and not for winners who are doing something in this world that actually is worth a tweet.
In conclusion and as stated, task switch is extremely inefficient, increases errors and depletes your mental energy. Mental energy is gold, even top tech executives wear the same clothes every day to reduce just one more decision from their day. So if your goal is to grow and to succeed, batch processing rather than task switching is paramount to your success. You'll be sharper, complete more and be mentally fresher at the end of the day.
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