Get more done by doing less

Man with laptop sitting in lotus positionIn our quest to do more in less time, people today are over-connected and regularly multitask. The average college student accesses three media sources simultaneously with 25% using four or more! While multitasking makes us feel more productive, research shows it has just the opposite effect. Being always on – texting on your cell phone, tweeting from your tablet, working on your laptop – impairs your ability to work, particularly to work in teams.

Knowing that, you may want to start out the new year by trying to do more by connecting to less. Here are a few suggestions on how to get started on disconnecting yourself from all your devices and doing too many things at once.

1. Do One Thing At a Time

The brain can only focus on a single thought, memory, or other brain activity at a time. What looks like effective multi-tasking is actually just people who are able to move from one singularity to another in the brain quickly. Understanding that, next time you have a big task in front of you, give yourself a block of uninterrupted time (try 30 minutes at first) to work only on that single task.  No quick Facebook breaks, no texting, no answering emails. You’ll be amazed how much progress you make in that short amount of time.

2. Be Present

Our smart phones have become an extension of ourselves – they are either always in our pocket, our hand, or on the table in front of us.  Next time you are in a meeting, put your phone away and turn of its ringer and other notifications. If everyone commits to doing this, your meetings will be faster and more effective, leaving you with more time to get the actual work done.

3. Eliminate Interruptions

It’s not enough to get yourself in the mood to do some uninterrupted work – you also have to shut out the world during that time too so you can get down to business.  Turn off your phone, the email notifications, and shut your door.

At first, trying to depend less on your phone or focusing on only one project at once might be a challenge because you’re so used to being constantly over-stimulated.  With a little bit of practice it will get easier. Give yourself some time to relearn how to focus on one task at a time and you will be doing better work in no time.