5 Ways to Increase Productivity by Minimizing Your Multi-Tasking

I was was sitting at my desk frantically trying to finish several projects. I think I was working on 3 different Standard Operating Procedures, 2 Training programs and trying to create a weekly inspection checklist. As I was reviewing the checklist, I noticed something very odd. One of the questions read: “Aisles, walkways, require the use of a face shield and safety glasses when grinding and exits are unobstructed.”

“Aisles, walkways, require the use of a face shield and safety glasses when grinding and exits are unobstructed.”

Multi-tasking Denis

I realized I had integrated my thoughts from the PPE Training I was putting together with the Operations Inspection! Wow, I thought to myself, you are better than this Baker. After staring at my screen for what seemed like hours, I finally concluded that I was just trying to accomplish too many things at one time.

I was always told a top performer was one who could multi-task. A few years ago I changed my thought on this. In my leadership discussions and writings, I’ve said that “leaders who do many things at once, typically make several mistakes and that can reduce their respect and effectiveness with those they lead.” While it might seem like you are accomplishing many things at once, research has shown that our brains are not nearly as good at handling multiple tasks as we like to think we are. In fact, some researchers suggest that multitasking can actually reduce productivity by as much as 40%!

“leaders who do to many things at once typically make several mistakes and that can reduce their respect and effectiveness with those they lead.”

Denis Baker

So where does multi-tasking come into play with minimalism? Well, I’ve found when I slow down and identify the tasks and activities with the nearest deadlines, those that add the highest value and produce a stronger safety culture, I was able to focus my efforts on those tasks.

Confusing performance with quantity is natural. Many try to convince themselves that cramming in a ton of tasks means we’re more productive. We end up investing our time in fast and easy activities to have a sense of accomplishment, rather than focusing on those that add the highest value. By applying minimalist principles, you can accomplish more by doing less.

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated,”

Confucius

Here are 5 ways to minimize multi-tasking:

  1. Start with an organized work space. Whether you’re a Safety Coordinator or VP Safety, you most likely have a designated workspace in your office or home. A cluttered work area can be costing you more time and effort than you realize. A study from Princeton Neuroscience Institute found that too much visual stimulus from a workstation competes for our attention, leaving less mind power for focusing and transitioning between tasks. Meanwhile, Harvard researchers found that those with a neat workspace were able to perform a challenging task for 1.5 times longer than those in a dirty environment.
  2. Re-evaluate your “to-do” list daily. Re-evaluate multiple times a day. If you are not aware of what is the current priority, you may be spending your time and effort on the wrong things. And that could have an impact on the safety of our workforce.
  3. Identify what is most important. Identify what is most important. Priorities change, the value does not. Ask yourself this question: “will this activity create a safer workplace? If the answer is no, get rid of it.
  4. Consider the Pareto Principle (80/20 rule). In simple terms, the principle says that in any event, 20 percent of the inputs or tasks are responsible for 80 percent of the outcome or results. Prioritize the tasks that produce 80%!
  5. Say NO! As the saying goes, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” A key element of leading a minimalist work life and boosting productivity is knowing how to say “no” to unnecessary meetings, tasks or activities that are not going add value.

SUMMARY

Simplify your life by removing everything that distracts you from your goal. When you apply this philosophy to your job, you put your goals center stage while eliminating the things that don’t increase the safety of the workforce.

Denis is an experienced Safety Professional with multi-industry experience. He is also an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group, a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical principles and relevant influencing techniques to change employee behaviors and ultimately reduce and eliminate injuries.  His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a passionate desire to become an effective leader.  

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture change, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

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