Efficiency Series: Are You a Multitasking Monster?
- People cannot really multitask. They can only "switch" tasks.
- Follow these 3 tips to keep you from falling into the multitasking trap.
If you Google “multitasking,” it is a concept originally for computers. It was later applied to human tasks and somehow everyone aspired to be a multitasking master. But is multitasking truly a desirable ability?
Studies have shown multitasking is not all it’s cracked up to be. Multitaskers believe they are accomplishing more by doing multiple tasks at once, but the effect is actually the opposite. An article in Psychology Today says you could lose up to 40% of your productivity if you multitask. The article refers to it as “task switching” because people can’t really do more than one task at a time. We only “switch” tasks. Because your attention is divided among several different things, your brain is doing more “switching” than actual work.
Think about when you’re doing your work in the dealership. If you’re simultaneously answering emails and talking to customers on the phone, do you end up asking your customers to repeat themselves because you weren’t completely focused on what they were saying? If you’re working on several deals at the same time, what do you think is the likelihood you’ll commit an error?
Here are 3 tips to keep you from falling into the multitasking trap:
- Map out your day and stick to it. Have a list of your tasks for the day in the order in which you plan to accomplish them, and actually follow it. Finish one task before moving on to another. Resist the urge to start an “easier” task before you have completed your current task. If an urgent item comes up, deal with it quickly then return to your task. If it requires more attention, add it to your task list and reassess prioritization.
- Focus on one thing at a time. You get more done by doing each task individually—with fewer mistakes and less rework. If several deals need your attention, focus on one deal at a time to avoid costly errors. If you’re in the middle of doing your email follow-ups, resist the urge to answer other emails that pop up. Don’t give up in the middle of one task to start another that “will only take two minutes.” It sounds simple, but is difficult in practice. If you find yourself quickly switching from one task to another, take a step back and re-focus on the task at hand.
- Remove distractions. How many times a day do you glance at your phone when it is within reach? How often do you click on pop-up alerts on your screen in the middle of a task? Each glance or click might only take a few seconds but these seconds add up. Before you know it, the day is over and you didn’t accomplish what you set out to do. Take out the squirrels around you so you can remain laser focused.
Leave the multitasking to your computer and technology system. In today’s automotive retailing environment where profits are shrinking and customers expect more, it is more important than ever to increase efficiency. As you become more efficient, you can focus less on tasks and more on your key responsibilities, such as selling vehicles and delighting customers.