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My Monkey Brain

Colony Co-Working – Down Arrow

8 November 2017

We recently welcomed the talented Fabio Basile into the Colony coworking community. His latest venture ‘Mikleo’ is a design and development studio based in Manchester. Fabio’s skill set runs deep and wide; he is a sought-after software engineer and designer and a talented writer & podcaster too! We are happy to introduce the following guest blog by the entrepreneur who suggests how a simple adjustment to our approach to work can increase efficiency and maximise productivity…

I am writing this piece from my new office; Colony, a brand new coworking space in Manchester, just 5 minutes walking distance from home. Located in Ancoats, an up and coming area of the city centre, many old mills are now renovated and accompanied by new buildings, awakening the historic area as the new creative business hub.

In less than twelve months I have changed three offices, but Colony is the only place — outside of coffee shops — where I can sit on my own and get transported into the focus zone, no distractions, no interruptions, just me my headset and the background noise of people around me.

I can finally single-task and focus on just one thing that’s most important to me at this exact moment: writing.

I have stopped creating tasks, in fact, my to-do list app is out of sync again, and it has been removed from the Dock to remind me how much I don’t need it to be productive. My monkey brain says otherwise.

Over the years I have realised that going small and reducing any ‘busyness’ from my day to day tasks has made my life a lot easier and structured. It’s entirely the opposite direction of what many people might think achieving success is like, filling their calendars and to-do lists to the brim and multitasking their way to misery and despair, unaware that success comes from doing just one task correctly.

There is so much time and energy that when you spread yourself out, you end up spread thin.

When you go as small as possible, you’ll be staring at one thing, and that’s the entire point.

Multitasking is a lie

I hate multitasking, there, I said it! Almost everyone accepts it as a valid thing to do. It’s so mainstream that people now think it’s the right thing to do and do it as often as possible. There are millions of articles offering tips on how to become a better multitasker and too many career website listing multitasking as essential skills for the right candidate.

Far too many people have gone too far as to be proud of their multitasking skills, adopting it as a way of life.

But multitasking is merely a way of screwing multiple things at once.

::To do two things at once is to do neither:: — Publilius Syrus

As I am writing this piece, all of my notifications are turned off. On average, depending on how complicated a task might be, the cost of switching a task could increase by 25 percent for more straightforward actions, to well over 100 percent for very complicated tasks.

1. The more time you spend switched to another task, the less likely you are to get back to your original task.

2. Bouncing between activities will waste your time as your brain will reorient to the new task. Researchers estimate that we lose up to 28 percent of an average workday to multitasking.

3. People who multitask on a regular basis lose track of how long a particular task might take. Typically believing a task will take longer to complete than it’s actually required. Have you had difficulties giving exact time estimates to a potential new client?

4. Multitasking will induce more stress in our lives. You’d have to juggle too many tasks and accomplish less in return.

This Pulitzer prize-winning Series in the New York Times is an excellent read for learning more about the subject.

Though multitasking is sometimes possible, it’s never possible to do it efficiently.

The people we live with and work with on a daily basis deserve our full attention. When we give them segmented attention, we end up damaging our relationships.

Much to do, nothing to do

The abundance of to-do apps, articles, courses and techniques available shows us that they are a staple of the time management and success industry. While to-dos serve as a useful collection of our best intentions, they suffocate us with the unimportant stuff we feel pressured to get done.

When little notifications keep popping up on our screens, screaming for immediate attention, we forget about the crucial tasks that we might be pushing at the back of the queue because we are too busy taking the easy way out.

No matter how many tasks you have on your to-do list, you can always reduce it to just one. Don’t focus on being busy, focus on being productive with only that important task.

Even if you need to make a long list of items, the point is to get a mind-set that allows you to recognise what’s not important “now”.

Don’t get trapped into the “check off” game. Sometimes it’s the first thing that you do, sometimes it’s the only thing that you do; regardless, doing the most important thing is always the most important thing.

You can read more from Fabio on his newsletter page:

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