Multitasking is a lie!
Sometimes we are so blinded by our obsession with optimizing our time that we convince ourselves that multitasking is a good thing. The problem is that when we do multiple things at once, like answering emails during a meeting, we lose focus on the main activity and we become more passive/reactive. Multitasking reduces drastically the value we bring to the table.
One of my favourite Scrum value is Focus and in this day and age it’s really hard to follow. It’s so easy to jump from one half-done request to the next by following the latest notification, phone call, email or chat. No wonder why you don’t have the time to plan ahead or take control of your own schedule.
How to respond to interruptions
I follow a simple process to avoid interruption and the tendency to start multitasking. Whenever I’m in the middle of something and someone asks me to do something else, I just write it down in my notebook as a ‘Todo’ for later (even if the new task could be done rather quickly).
I’m not using online ‘Todo apps’ because it would require that I switch my screen from what I’m doing to another screen. I prefer switching my attention from screen to paper. This way my current task doesn’t leave my screen while I’m writing down this new interrupting task.
In Kanban one popular saying is : “Stop Starting, Start Finishing”.
The goal is to limit the amount of work in progress. You need to reduce the number of things competing for your attention to a minimum. That way you can focus on finishing stuff as fast as possible.
How to prevent multitasking
Whenever you feel like you’re not in control of your day, keep in mind that you’re the one who allow it. You’re also the one that can take back control. The way to do it is rather simple. You just have to say: “No”, “Not now” or even “I’ll get to it as soon as I get some time”, and just write it down.
Sometime you might foolishly think that your option is to multitask or jump on the next emergency. Stop being the victim of interruptions and find your own way to Focus on your task at hand.
Bonus: If you’re looking for a cool way to structure your todos in your notebook, take a look at the Bullet Journal