Learnings from the Management Consultant: Stop Multi-Tasking

New business owners quickly realize that one of their most important assets is their time. Learning to manage how they spend it is important to not only the success of their business, but ensures balance in their lives. Many believe multi-tasking is important to ensure they can get everything done.

One of the best consultants I know, Mike Bernardi, likes to tell a story about the ineffectiveness of multi-tasking:

Two groups were given a set of routine administrative tasks to do. The first group was a set of senior executives who were given the instructions to tackle the tasks the way they normally would approach work. The second group, college students with no administrative or business experience, were told to complete one task at a time.

The executives, to a person, multitasked as they worked on the projects. The inexperienced college students completed one at a time. At the end of the allotted time, the college students had not only completed more projects, but the solutions were more accurate.

In today’s business environment I watch my clients bounce from activity to activity. Often when they receive an EMAIL, text, or phone call, they stop what they’re doing and immediately respond, regardless of whether they’re in a meeting, talking with a customer, or working on something else. Not only does this affect their productivity, it affects the productivity of all involved.

Consider this: The time it takes to recover the time you’ve lost after you’ve allowed an interruption is typically double the time of the interruption. Multiply that by the number of people affected by the interruption. If you add that wasted time up at the end of each day, wouldn’t you be more effective?

Interested in starting a business? Learn more in $1,000 Start-Ups.

Published by Leah Ward-Lee

Leah Ward-Lee, the author of "$1,000 Start-Ups", is a serial micro-entrepreneur. She opened her first business at ten after lobbying for and receiving a shoe shine kit for Christmas. She pulled her wagon through the neighborhood, going door-to-door, offering to shine her neighbor’s shoes for twenty-five cents a pair. Once her wagon was full, she took the shoes home and polished them. Unfortunately that business was short-lived. She hadn’t tagged the shoes and couldn’t remember whose shoes were whose, so her dad went with her to retrace the route until every pair was returned. Since then she’s had businesses developing and teaching college courses, instructing aerobic classes, owning half a plane that was rented to a flight and maintenance school, and renting homes. She’s also owned a consignment store, a gift shop, a gift basket business, a consulting firm, hosted The Executive Toolbox (a weekly radio show), and a publishing company. She also spent twenty years in the US Army, served as the Chief Information and Technical Officer for two major insurance companies, and has a second career as a management consultant. Leah resides in Dallas, TX and on Amelia Island with Sammy and Goliath, her two rescue dogs.

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