Multitasking is a Waste, indeed!
Especially in the North American ministry world, multitasking can seem like a good thing. Working on several tasks may make you feel like you’re working hard and getting a lot done.
Let’s get real on this: what we’re probably doing is Well, I’m a one-task-at-a-time kind of guy these days. But if you’re one who boasts of their productivity and ability to multitask, consider the following ways multitasking may actually be hurting your productivity, and what you can do to improve.
We Americans like the idea of “killing two birds with one stone.”
Waste of Time
Distracted Driver? In 2008, the University of Utah studied drivers who talked on their cell phones. Researchers found they took longer to arrive to their destinations than those who simply focused on driving. Drivers were also noted as drifting in and out of their lanes and missed exits more frequently.
At home or in your church office, you can expect to get less done if you’re distracted. During focus times like sermon prep or creative programming for worship services or preaching calendar planning, we need focus!
The time it takes to refocus and get back into creativity after switching tasks wastes time and creativity. We can’t get them back!
Guy Winch, PhD, in his excellent work, “Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries,” says,
“What tends to save the most time is to do things in batches.”
For example, “Pay your bills all at once, then send your emails all at once. Each task requires a specific mindset, and once you get in a groove you should stay there and finish.”
Lower Quality Results
Our mind’s capacity doesn’t have the ability to expand when we try to add more to our plates. We can’t give equal attention to all tasks, and attention gets divided among different endeavors.
Errors and mistakes are inevitable, which causes extra stress. We all know stress can lower your job or ministry performance and quality of life.
For higher quality results, look to the state motto of Ohio, “With GOD all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). But not with you.
Look again at the principle of OHIO in your ministry or job. The OHIO principle, which stands for “Only Handle It Once,” and has had its popularity established by Robert Pozen, a Harvard Business School professor and author of “Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours.”
The basic idea behind the OHIO principle is that once you start something you don’t stop until you’ve finished. This requires disciplined planning and time management so that random emails, Facebook messages, tweets or texts don’t distract you.
Completing our tasks linearly one at a time boosts our productivity and the quality of our work.
We are certainly not celebrities as pastors, but let’s face it. There are times when people want to talk to us on Sundays after service. Now, multitasking is a waste. We certainly don’t multitask people and talk with each of them in brief spurts, alternating who gets our attention in a three minute time span. No, we give our undivided attention and focus until the conversation is finished (hopefully we do this!) this is a way we show our love to our people. Handling our tasks this way shows our love to ourselves and to the tasks at hand.
Warning! Danger Ahead!
Another study was conducted regarding multitasking. This time in 2009 at Western Washington University. The study found that 75% of college students who walked across campus while talking on their cell phone did not notice a clown riding a unicycle nearby.
These researchers coined a term for this… “Inattentional blindness,” meaning that even though the students were looking up occasionally at their surroundings, they weren’t actually seeing or registering anything around them. While failing to notice a clown while walking may not hurt anybody, in attentional blindness as a result of texting while driving has proven more fatal than driving under the influence in multiple studies.
Managing our screen time may be the key to not only preventing dangerous side-affects of multitasking, but also improving all the other problems multitasking creates. Ever get the feeling that your eyes are bugging out while staring at a computer for so long?
It’s recommended by Julie Morgenstern, productivity expert and author of “Time Management from the Inside Out” recommends scheduling “screen breaks” into your daily schedule for 1-3 hours. If we take this challenge seriously, I guarantee your relationships and physical health will improve.
Savor the task and the glory of becoming emotionally and spiritually healthier, one task at a time.