A half-dozen clients. Four employees. Sixteen projects and eight hours. The days can get a little crazy around here. At any given moment, I found myself answering emails, proofing projects for the team, responding to instant messages, listening to phone messages and opening up a file to make a change… all at the same time. It makes me tired just thinking about it. How on earth can I do so much yet get so little done in the day?
My husband and I were at Olde Line Tattoo in Hagerstown for a consultation (he’s getting a wicked awesome NYC skyline sleeve), and as I stood there looking around at their team, something dawned on me. Tattoo artists CAN’T multitask! Imagine this… you’re sitting in the chair, getting a tattoo. Someone walks in and asks to get a tattoo and your artist gets up and does it. He then sits back down and gets a phone call and takes it. As soon as he starts back up, he stops because he heard the infamous email ding on his phone. A tattoo that was supposed to take an hour has now taken three. What?? This doesn’t happen! Tattoo artists are super focused on their work for many reasons. One, for sanitary reasons, but also because they are hired by someone to complete a job. They need to stay focused on their steadiness, creativity, and technique.
Then it hit me. Why are WE multitasking? Why aren’t we treating ourselves like the tattoo artist, starting and stopping a session all in one sitting? To regain creative traction after you’ve left it’s freaking hard. It’s like getting a steam engine to go full speed after it’s stopped. We made a list of other industries that literally can’t multitask because something would go terribly wrong:
• Surgeons – our life depends on their focus
• Sports players – imagine an athlete sending an email while running a touchdown
• Music conductors – keep playing flute section, I need to take this call…
• Nascar drivers – are not posting updates on Facebook at 100mph
• Cooks – if they don’t want to burn their food at all
There are so much more, but this really made us stop and think, if those professionals aren’t able to multitask, why do we ask ourselves to every day? Just in writing this blog, I’ve had about six opportunities to stop. The ding, the random memory, the feeling that I need to do 100 things at once. We’re putting our foot down and saying no more. We’ve adopted a word of the year at Worx, and it’s FOCUS.
Focus means a lot of things, but without tangible goals, it’s hard to stick with them. Here’s what we’re doing:
• Working on one project at a time. No more switching around.
• If we need to focus on a project, we’re going into time-blocks. Sprints of time without interruption to be able to start and complete a task.
• Project review. I’ll only be checking projects twice a day, once after lunch and once at the end of the day.
• Taking phone messages – if someone is in a time-block, Courtney will be taking messages for them to call back instead of feeling the need to take each call.
• Closing our email when focusing on a project, not to be distracted by the red circle that desires our immediate attention.
This isn’t easy; that’s for sure. It’s a matter of retraining yourself to have new habits. Multitasking is simply a habit and not a good one. In reality, multitasking doesn’t exist, just task switching. You can’t do anything to your best ability when you’re doing multiple things simultaneously.
What are you currently doing that’s supposed to take an hour but takes three, or all day or weeks? How much more could you get done if you simply stopped and focused on that one thing? Imagine not only completing it but completing it well with satisfaction.
Join us in focusing this year. This month we’re focusing on our work habits. Once we master that, we’ll focus on something else. Our goal is to focus on one subject each month for the year and see how that transforms our team, our success and our lives.