How to Stop Your Team Multitasking (And Get Real Work Done)

How to Stop Your Team Multitasking (And Get Real Work Done)

Multitasking usually means handling chaos: some can manage it; others - not so much… Streamlining the chaos is a nearly impossible task, but once you get a hold of it, it will start paying off from the go!

Whether we like it or not, multitasking has become an integral part of our everyday lives. Although we desperately try to focus on one thing only, shifting from one task to another is simply bound to happen, especially if we are team players.

As much we would like to believe that multitasking helps us become proficient at our job, it actually does quite the opposite. It hinders our concentration, makes our productivity drop and prevents us from delivering the best work possible.

In reality, we only shift from one thing to another interrupting our thoughts and wasting our energy in the process.

Unfortunately, all of us occasionally become enthusiastic about the idea that we can multitask across various projects and be productive. Sooner or later we all get stuck in a merry-go-round and fail to achieve any significant progress. If this happens only on an individual level, it won’t necessarily have a detrimental effect on the business as a whole and shouldn’t be much of a concern.

However, if a large part of your team tends to switch-task, that can slow down the processes and dramatically decrease productivity. The last thing you want is your team to fall into a cycle of starting multiple tasks and not completing any of them within designated timelines.

This is the right time to talk to your team and explain to them that multitasking sucks a huge amount of attention. Point out that this will only kill their efficiency and work against the company’s best interest. Once they all agree that constant multitasking will get them nowhere, propose an alternative - focusing on one single task until it’s completed.

You might think, yeah, in theory perhaps! With so many priority tasks at hand, how can they focus their attention on a single one and not let other things distract them?

To be able to get on top of it, they first need to embrace the atmosphere of disruption and the constraints of a forty-hour-work week. Next, they need to know their limits and feel good about the work they have accomplished in that period of time.

Instead of jumping from one task to another hectically, encourage them to concentrate on one task only. This will give them a sense of achievement and the feeling that they are making progress every step of the way.

However, be mindful that people usually find it hard to get rid of all habits. Even though your team may accept this new strategy, they may still start multitasking without even noticing it.

To prevent this, build a habit of creating, working on and completing tasks within one centralized place visible to the whole team. But keep the focus on one task at the time - no distractions.

If any of your team members has problem singling out the most important task to focus on, you should give yourself freedom to narrow their choices. There are several ways to achieve this.

Solution 1

Once you create and assign tasks in ActiveCollab, set clear start and due dates. This will enable the absent-minded team member to keep their mind on the most urgent task.

Keep in mind that this will work well only for highly dedicated individuals with strong will to complete the task without extending deadlines.

Solution 2

If your employees show a lack of interest and ability to focus on one task only and complete it within a specific period of time, you need to meddle in and highlight tasks you consider to be of high priority.

Unfortunately, this approach has a downside: it requires your interference after each and every task is completed - so it can prove to be quite bothersome. Once the team member completes the task at hand, you move on to determining the next priority task that requires full attention.

Solution 3 (In case previous options fail)

  • Refocus your employee’s attention on only one task by removing them from all the tasks and keeping them assigned them to only one, top-priority task.

  • Let the assignee break the task into subtasks and organize their time accordingly.

  • Next, convert those subtasks into separate smaller tasks.

  • Finally, group them into one task list named by the initial task itself. Make sure you create tight deadlines on the newly created tasks and help your team complete their tasks on time and with ease.

Interestingly, when things are moving fast, it’s almost impossible not to stay focused. With that in mind, help your team realise the benefits of single-tasking, encourage them to build the habit of focusing on one task and the rest will follow naturally. 

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