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Quit your Multitasking Habit: 5 Behavioural Strategies for Startup Founders
How an article on Elon Musk's multitasking sparked a quick how to quit response.
Tips, tricks and tweaks to help founders each week. You’ll be surprised what a difference these tiny experiments can make.
It’s hard to go past an article in the Australian Financial Review called, “Musk’s multitasking shows the cost of being thinly stretched.” While multitasking is a subject I’ve explored before, invoking the mighty Musk had me right back at it.
“Doing disparate things at the same time is claimed as a strength by exponents. But academic research shows that 97.5 percent of us are not very good at it” - AFR, Jan 2023.
Often touted as a productivity hack, multitasking can be a dangerous trap for founders. Not only does it interfere with attention, focus, flow, and decision making, but it also adds switching costs that can slow down progress and increase stress levels.
Here are five behavioural strategies that can help you break the multitasking habit and stay focused, including prioritising tasks, eliminating distractions, taking regular breaks, practising mindfulness, and using the Pomodoro Technique.
Prioritise your tasks: Create a to-do list and prioritise your tasks based on their importance and urgency. Focus on one task at a time, and don't move on to the next until the first is completed.
Eliminate distractions: Identify the sources of distraction in your work environment, and eliminate them as much as possible. This could include turning off notifications on your phone, closing unnecessary tabs on your computer, and finding a quiet workspace.
Use the Pomodoro Technique: This method involves working for a set amount of time (usually 25 minutes) and then taking a short break. Repeat this cycle several times, with longer breaks after every 4 cycles. This helps to prevent fatigue and maintain focus.
Take regular breaks: It's important to take regular breaks to refresh your mind and recharge your batteries. This could include going for a walk, meditating, or doing a quick workout.
Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment, and it can help you stay focused and avoid multitasking. There are several ways to practise mindfulness, such as meditation, yoga, and journaling.
While multitasking may seem like an efficient way to get things done, the reality is that it can be detrimental to productivity and decision-making. By implementing these five strategies, you can stay focused and maybe even hit flow states more often.
Full disclosure: This article was written with the help of Mr Musk’s ChatGPT. I’m sure my request was one of millions being worked on simultaneously. No question that bots can multitask, but humans - even very clever ones - have better ways of getting things done.
We’re all a work in progress.
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