While we have all heard about the dangers of multitasking and being too busy, when we are in business, especially as a startup, it’s often hard to avoid. We have a lot of things to do, and if we just focus on a few, or better yet, one at a time, it feels like the others will never get finished.
To be successful, we need to avoid this kind of thinking. How do we do that? Through using a few simple techniques, ones that are easy to list but difficult to follow through with.
In his book The One Thing, Gary Keller talks about prioritizing tasks down to not just the few things that are most important right now, but instead the “one thing.” What is the single most important thing for you to tackle at this moment? Take that on first, and do one thing at a time.
Of course, this can be challenging and it is a process. It is hard to break the habit of having several things going at once, and trying to narrow it to one. However, we can do better at reducing that list. We need to take away our mind clutter and enable ourselves to focus.
The key is to understand that contrary to our beliefs, everything is not equally important, and truthfully, we don’t have to do everything ourselves. In fact, it is impossible to do everything well.
As the Russian proverb says, “If you chase after two rabbits you will not catch either of them.”
The more we can focus on one thing at a time, and tackle the task in front of us wholeheartedly, the better that work will be. The more we split our focus, the lower the quality of the multiple tasks we are trying to accomplish will turn out.
It’s not that we can neglect the other things we need to do entirely. We just need to focus on them one at a time, and do them in the right order.
The greatest concepts are usually the simplest, and that is true of prioritizing as well. Just determine which tasks will have the greatest effect on your business at the moment, and do those first.
You can’t do everything yourself, but you can hire people to do some of those things for you. Perhaps you are not at a point yet where you can hire more employees, but if you have a one-time need, you can hire a freelancer or a company to meet that need for you.
For instance, if you are creating a new website, and have completed the design process, but you don’t have the expertise or time to optimize it for organic search, hire someone to do it for you.
This does not mean that you are giving up 100% of control. You can approve concepts and supervise the process, but you can turn over the work to a professional who can do the tasks more efficiently, and usually offer you greater insight into what you need to do.
The same is true for content marketing, branding, graphic design, and more. While you might be able to do some or all of these yourself, a professional can do them better and more efficiently.
More importantly, you can focus on the things that are a higher priority to you. Remember, the key is to use your time efficiently, not to multitask and be “busier.”
When you stop working in your business and start working ON your business-you will be able to refine the systems that allow your business to run and take growth to the next level. If you haven’t read The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber, it could be an eye opener for you.
What this is really all about is focus. The dangers of multitasking are many, and the side effects are things you don’t want at all.
- Reduced Cognitive Ability and Motivation
- Memory Problems
- Relationship Issues
- Depression and Social Anxiety
These symptoms are all in addition to you being less productive. Focus, on the other hand, leads to the opposite effects, including feelings of accomplishment, increased motivation, euphoria, and overall enjoyment of your business venture. This turns around to have a positive impact on your relationships and those around you as well.
This is a big one for business people. In order to be focused and stop multitasking, you need to develop trust in those around you. This means your employees and others you hire need to be trustworthy first of all, and second you must let go of your desire for control.
The truth is, you can’t control every situation and every project from start to finish no matter how hard you try or how badly you want to. It just won’t work. First, even if you manage to, all of your projects will feel narcissistic, and that will come across to your clients.
Second, you need to trust that those who are working for you know what they are doing, and are truly experts in their field. There is a reason you hired them, and you need to let them do their part without micromanaging it.
Micromanagement is really one of the largest causes of multitasking, and it is critical that before you get far into your business career you learn to avoid it. It causes more stress for both you and those you have hired.
We all know we need to stop multitasking and stop the glorification of busy, but it is easier said than done. In order to be successful at it, you have to prioritize, outsource, focus, and trust. Then you can get on with doing what you do best: making your dreams come true.