We are all offenders of multitasking. If you just think about how often you do it in a day, it might amaze you how talented you are: Texting while listening to music, breathing and walking. Trying on new shoes while talking in a store that is playing the radio. Eating while watching TV and nodding. I can go on and on. Most of it happens unconsciously and we do it so out of habit and with ease that multitasking just seems another part of life.
Yet at work – you might find you rather do it consciously. When you are on a call that goes on for hours, you may on the side be answering emails or working on a presentation. It might also seem like a good use of your time – you are being productive – right? But have you instead thought about the fact that you just might be half-a**ing both tasks?
If you dedicate your full attention to a task, you are more likely to
- a) be faster
- b) make less mistakes
- c) be more creative
- d) think about next steps or key challenges more clearly
- e) be more attentive
You may miss out on something vital a person says on a call or you may miss an opportunity to contribute and play to your strengths. There is no win-win situation when you multitask at work. Only a kind of- kind of. We all have long task list, and the sooner you get them done not only the sooner you can go home but also the better you look for getting your tasks done so fast. But if the task is not done to the great extent it could have been, you might regret missing out on a chance to show off your potential.
And there is another side-effect. Your energy. It will cost you at least three time amount the energy to finish two tasks at once than it did if you would do one at a time because you are mainly doing three things: You spend some of your energy focusing on one task, some on the other, and some on balancing between the two of them. Now that sounds like a draining day.
All in all, the benefits to not multitask outweigh the multitasking benefits. Do your best always. Give 100% percent. And that means, focusing on one task at hand and giving it your all. Now that, is what will benefit you the most.
Many of us are people pleasers. Even if we wish we weren’t or feel like we are not – its really hard to say you don’t want to do something to someone senior than you – like a boss or a mentor. Since the day you start at school, your first step out into the world, you are taught to be nice and to comply. To be quiet, to smile and be polite, to do what the teacher says and not object. We carry this forward with us to comply with society, be likeable and not to stand out in a negative way. Many of us therefore become, even if not actively or on purpose, people pleasers.
Its hard not to. Your boss is the one that determines your performance, so how can you say no to him? Your co-workers are the ones that decide if you are in a healthy corporate environment or if going to work is uncomfortable and awkward. So – how do you push back when they give you tasks and still be liked?
The way to deal with it is always to be kind, but not to be nice. Nice is being compliant, kind is not being mean, but it doesn’t mean you have to be compliant or say yes. You just say it in a polite way. Imagine a co-worker asks for help on a project. Being nice means you say “Of course, happy to help” even though you don’t have the time or the bandwidth. You just want to be helpful and seen as a valuable co-worker. But, if you focus on being kind, you can say “I’d love to, but I’m just really swamped right now. Do you mind if I come back to you on that? And many thanks for asking”.
See the difference? Always, always, always be a good person. But also be kind to yourself first and how you are doing. Put your work first. Setting boundaries and saying no can actually help you in the long run. It makes people respect you more for being able to say no. It makes you seem like a person that understands how to manage yourself and your workload. And also – when you do have the time, and you do say yes, its more appreciated by your co-workers.
Bear in mind that whenever you say no – do it with a smile. Be a kind person, but don’t be a pushover. Don’t be nice. Remember to be kind to yourself first.