How Multitasking is Killing Efficiency And 3 Tips to Avoid It

May 14, 2020

Multitasking has been a time-honored tradition in many insurance agencies.  As workloads have increased, the idea of doing multiple things at once seemed like a great way to get more done and “multitaskers” were viewed as being more productive.

The problem is that multitasking does not work.   

  • The human brain is not made to focus on more than one thing at a time.  Attempting to split focus means that half of the work is not getting the same level of attention.
  • Hopping back and forth between tasks expends time and energy as the brains is constantly trying to readjust.  Studies show it can take up to 15 minutes for the brain to refocus.
  • Multitasking can reduce efficiency by 40% which equals about 3.2 hours per day.

Multitasking can have a significant impact on both efficiency and quality of work which can impact the quality of service clients are receiving.  It can be a challenge to break this habit, but here are few things that may help your employees put more focus back in their days:

Plan & Prioritze – 

Employees should start each day reviewing current work and prioritize tasks. By doing this, employees are able to create an action plan for the day ensuring that the most critical things get done first and are not left until the last minute (or not completed at all).  Much of this can be entered, tracked and prioritized within the agency management system.  Make sure employee know how to properly review and update the system so they can move efficiently from task to task.

Creating a to-do lists can be another great way to boost productivity.  While much of an employee’s work is being dictated by follow ups and email, a to do list can help reinforce what needs to be done that day.  It can also be a great way for employees to record other thoughts that may come up and need to be revisited at a later time.  A written to-do list can provide a way for employees to reflect on what they accomplished at the end of each day as well.   

Utilize Time-Tracking & Time-Blocking –

Time is a finite resource.  It is easy to lose track of how much time may be spent on tasks. In order to ensure employees are able to maximize on available time, try these techniques:

  • Have employees set a timer for those tasks that should only require a certain amount of time.
  • Implement time-tracking software.   These systems are built to provide an objective measure of how much time employees are spending on individual tasks throughout the day.  For more information on time-tracking software, check out this article from DeskTime.
  • Use time-blocking for larger tasks and appointments by scheduling them out on the calendar with a pre-determined start and end time. Assigning a specific time allows you to create a system for the tasks that need to be completed   

*Utilizing these techniques can also provide insight into areas where additional training is needed if tasks are taking longer than expected.

Create an Organized Work Environment – 

A disorganized or cluttered workspace can be the enemy of productivity.  This is not limited to just the physical office where an employee works as they are utilizing technology which should be organized for efficiency as well.  

  • Encourage employees to keep as clean of a work area as possible. Whether it’s piles of paper or other unnecessary items that fill your desk, it’s important to organize those items and get rid of anything that is not needed for work.
  • A disorganized inbox is essentially electronic clutter.  Help employees create a folder system in their inbox to organize emails and encourage them to regularly delete messages that are no longer needed.  

It may be a difficult transition for multi-taskers on your team to make the shift to tackling just one thing at a time.   However, using the above tips will help them maintain better focus and, ultimately, be more productive!