Eating the Frog — Why multitasking doesn’t work

Kathryn SwanJ-C Correspondent

The Pawhuska Chamber’s recent “Food for Thought” series proved a great kickoff for the New Year! Holding true to their goal of providing professional development and a meaningful networking experience, this month’s program was outstanding! Plus, participants were treated to a delicious hot lasagna lunch with all the trimmings, courtesy of Helmer Oil.

“Multitasking – Why It Doesn’t Work” was presented by Strategy Center trainers Tonya Foreman and Tara Gotwalt. This dynamic dual are industry leaders in providing thought-provoking programs while engaging their audience in a fast-paced, forward-thinking environment.

Gotwalt described “Multitasking is another word for being unable to focus on the task at hand. Studies show that the average professional spends about 23 percent of the day emailing, being on twitter and FaceBook.” These habits form the Bermuda triangle of productivity.

“Our brains are wired to be very good at executing patterns,” continued Gotwalt. “Establishing routines around the way you carry out regular tasks makes you more efficient and productive. Make a schedule and stick with it. Group small tasks and designate times to respond to or send emails or returning phone calls.

Prioritizing one’s daily activities is the same as Mark Twain’s “Eat a Frog” analogy. If you think about eating a frog the first thing in the morning, it will probably be the worst thing that will happen to you that day. Your frog is the biggest, ugliest, most important task of the day. All others are tadpoles and could be eliminated or even delegated to someone else.

“Switching between tasks (multitasking) can cause a 40 percent loss in productivity,” said Gotwalt. “It can also cause you to introduce errors into whatever you’re working on, especially if one or more of your activities involve a lot of critical thinking.”

Surprisingly, 89 percent of employees say they are more productive when working alone. Loud coworkers came in second with 63 percent of respondents saying this is their number one distraction. To minimize coworker distractions, don’t make eye contact. Consider wearing a headset during peak concentration. Or, sit with your back to the door. Shift social discussions to coffee or lunch. Avoid gossip. Schedule a time if a coworker needs your help.

Sponsored by the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce, the “Food for Thought” lunch and learn series are held bi-monthly at the Pawhuska Business Development Center. For more information, contact Cindy Helmer at chelmer@tctc.org or 918-287-3357.