You’ve heard the story about multitasking. How mastering that is supposedly super efficient, shows great skill and intelligence. A big steaming mess of p—, if you ask me. I have often– and am sad to report that I still more often than not do – laboured under the impression of the validity of said statement.
Applying some social media sass here, writing a fresh blog post there, answering professional emails yonder and scheming on new projects in a corner. I was a mess, all over the place and my attention span that of a… a look, a butterfly! But it is not only the fact that your brain is overwhelmed by not focusing on one thing. The actual problem lies somewhere else.
Number One Enemy
Energy. Your brain might have trouble refocusing but for the first time or so, you can concentrate really hard and pull yourself together. That is, until your energy levels run out from so much shifting and fiddling. Always rearranging priorities and addressing different tasks makes you flimsy, brushes in a few mistakes and will tear you down. It is a tedious work to not get work done and makes you feel like you’ve accomplished nothing. And in fact, you haven’t really because all that you’ve worked so hard on, is mostly unfinished.
The other day I read a great article on creating a time schedule that works best for you and focuses on the times you are the most productive. But wait, here’s the catch, don’t make a list around doing your most important items first during those peak times. Seems counter-intuitive, I know. But doing everything simultaneously just because a situation seems to require it (I’m looking at you, awesome powerhouse mothers and super busy team leading business women), clearly is not the way forward. Your work will only be mediocre and let’s face it, you are awesome and mediocre is so not good enough.
What this schedule actually should revolve around is your energy distribution. You know when you’re energy peaks now through your most productive times, so cluster your activities according to their energy consumption. I know, this seems like a green electricity plan and yes, you could consider it as such. Why you want to burn yourself out by lighting up to the fullest when your light is dimming? You get the point. Always let your light shine!
Get Real and Get Cooking
So to stay productive, acknowledge that you are not a machine and even though you might be able to push through, you really shouldn’t. Here, let me infuse some reason into this. You will try to muster all the strength you have left and waste your energy on doing exactly that, forcing up more energy. Unproductive right there. Take the Swedes as an example and have a fika or rest. Make breaks part of your schedule. Especially freelancers do like to forget about this. Not having any legally binding office and break hours is just too addicting. Only finishing this and then you have a break. You are fooling yourself. And even worse, you are not helping.
So what I’m saying is stop – and have a think. How much energy are you wasting? How much of that could you have used for doing a task earlier or later and shifting your focus? Also, don’t stick to your schedule too tightly, especially when the muse kicks in and you get in the zone. When you write you write. But when you feel your energy plummeting. Plummet down into a nice cushion and enjoy a cuppa. Whether that be tea, coffee or hot choc, is up to you. Recharging can be so worth it.