Time Management, Multi-Tasking and Recent Studies

If you are like me, you have been in a constant struggle that finds you striving to get more done in less time.  Eventually you get to the point that you have to let things go from your to do list (que Frozen soundtrack here).  To top it off there has been a recent backlash against what most of us consider multi tasking with many saying that the productivity boost is an illusion.  While I believe the studies results I am not buying the conclusions.  I think you can still get more done, and done better, if you do multi tasking in smart ways and there is a study that backs up my way of looking at things.  If you merely swap from one mindless or even mindful task after another you end up lost and scattered, but if you pair mindless and mindful tasks correctly you can find much greater productivity.  For example I read newsletters and browse stuff on my tablet while walking on the treadmill with the TV on.  I do not watch gripping drama or subtle comedy, but when I want to drain the swamp on my DVR or watch something that is less engaging I find I can also get in some steps to feed my fitbit and purge a bit of email.  I find that I can increase the complexity of the email or the program being watched so long as I do not try to watch an engaging show while doing important email.  This is my formula.  I imagine that I have 100 attention points at any given time.  I can allocate 5 to 10 of those points to a physical task like walking on a treadmill, stretching or petting my dog.  These are truly mindless tasks that steal very little attention once you are underway.  Watching TV or listening to music where the programming is not very engaging might take 20 or 30 points.  Then you have most of your attention to do something more weighty.  This is not for everyone, but I find it very productive and now I think I know why.  Research published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology says that when you are trying to solve problems creatively directing your attention elsewhere for a few minutes can enhance your results by letting your subconscious do the work.  The bottom line is like everything else, you can make multi tasking work, if you mind the details of what tasks you pile together.  Do it wrong and you end up falling behind and quality suffers, but there are still ways to do it effectively.

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