As babies, we’re encouraged to master one task at a time. Sitting up, crawling, and then walking. In school, we focus on one subject at a time, devoting our energy to that until it’s time for the next class.
This makes it all the more strange that multitasking has become a source of pride for many adults, who list all the tasks they’re working on at once as if each is a badge of honor. But dividing your attention is not the best way to get things done.
Dave Crenshaw, author of The Myth of Multitasking, believes that concentrating on too many projects causes a loss of time and money. In this simple test Crenshaw shows how “switchtasking,” the act of attempting to do multiple attention-requiring tasks at the same time, has a high price. Many complete the tasks twice as slowly, and not as precisely, as they would have before.
How can you avoid the dangers of multitasking, while still getting all your work completed?
- Set your own goal lists. Knowing what you need to accomplish each day is an excellent start to ensuring you stay on task throughout your trade show planning.
- Disarm distractions by setting up recurring meetings. It can be hard to avoid co-workers who stop by your desk to ask quick questions. Try setting up short meetings with your most frequent interrupters, and train them to ask any questions during that scheduled time, so you can maintain productivity, but also keep your relationships intact.
- Get leadership on board. It can be hard if you’re in the middle to convince leadership to make any changes about the way things are done. But if you come armed with proof of the positive impacts controlling switchtasking has had on your own work, they may be more open to suggestions. In the trade show planning world, it’s particularly important to show how your productivity can enhance relationships with sponsors and attendees.
- Control your own distractions, like technology. Technology isn’t the problem, per se. However, the way many use it to distract themselves is problematic. Block yourself from surfing the web or answering texts when you’re focused on a task. If answering emails is a must, set specific check-in times so you can give those who’ve reached out your undivided attention.
These are all excellent ways to stay on task, while remaining productive and keeping your working relationships intact.