Currently I’m reading Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time. You can find it on Amazon by clicking here. The author Jeff Sutherland is credited with being the co-founder of Scrum, an agile methodology. I had read this book but put it down to pursue others. Needless to say, I’m glad I picked it back up.
I wanted to share Sutherland’s take on multi-tasking, and how you can effectively do twice as much in less time.
Keep an open mind, this is ground breaking stuff.
First off, don’t be this guy ……
The Guy who does three projects at once, who drives and talks on his cell phone, who promotes his competence by complaining loudly about all the things he has to juggle every day. This sort of “busy-brag” is becoming part of our work culture.
The sad part about this is that it’s overwhelmingly true and becoming the norm in this day and age. I’m sure you can think of at least 3-5 people who fit this profile.
Don’t be busy for the sake of being busy!
I love that the book points this out. It makes me wonder, why did we ever place so much emphasis on hours worked? Do yourself a favor, don’t be a “busy-bragger”, it’s worse than getting nothing done at all. Why the hell is working 12-16 hour days glorified? Here’s what happens when you multi-task….you get less done.
But don’t take my word for it, let’s look at the research shall we. Sutherland proposes a test which I’ve taken and I strongly advise that you try.
- Write down the numbers 1-10
- Writes down the Roman Numerals 1-10
- Write down the letters A-L
Now the first time you write all the letters & numbers down, do them column by column (i.e. 1, I, A then 2, II, B so on and so forth) and time yourself.
The second time write all the letters & numbers down one row at at time. What you’ll find is that you can do the latter nearly twice as fast!
Reason being is that our brains work faster and more effectively when focusing on one task at a time.
Sutherland takes this a step further by also noting that it takes more energy and time to complete a task when you leave it incomplete, and have to come back to it.
When you’re working on a project, there’s a whole mind space that you create around it….Recreating that construct a week later is hard….You have to become your past self again, put yourself back inside a mind that no longer exists
Sutherland used an example from a software company he consulted with in California. The company tested software development code daily as opposed to weeks/months after the code was finished. What they found was that if a defect were addressed the same day it would take an hour to fix; weeks later it would take 24 hours to fix. That’s 24 times longer !!
This is all a result of having to reframe your mind to fit the context of the problem again. Same principle as switching between task simultaneously, except this is substantially worse.
Having 20 projects on your plate is nothing to be proud of if you’re doing them all at once and all of them are partially done. Complete one, then move on to the next. Consolidate multiple tasks with each other so that you can focus on a common set of similar problems.
Busy-braggers beware, there’s no room for you in the 21st Century!
Do you still think multi-tasking is more effective?
Why do you think corporate cultures praise and promote having more projects and working more hours?
Be real, are you a “busy-bragger”, if so, do you plan on taking Sutherland’s approach to productivity?
Share and please comment 🙂