Sounds like your mother? Well, turns out she may have been on to something. While many of us multi-task while using our devices, recent studies show what we’ve suspected all along: that multi-tasking actually diminishes productivity. Unfortunately, we tend to feel more productive when multi-tasking.

We need to retrain ourselves to stop feeling uber productive just because we’re working on three different things at once. Rather than taking someone else’s word for it, why not try a little experiment?

See how much you get done during a typical day of multi-tasking. List everything you accomplished, as in, actually got done. Then, on another day when you have a similar workload, focus on one task at a time for the whole day, and compare results. It may be challenging, so here are a few tips:

  • Turn that thing off! Electronic devices tend to be our biggest distracters, so whatever you’re not using for a particular task, turn it off. Close idle apps and browser tabs. Put the phone on airplane mode. When working on a PowerPoint presentation, spreadsheet or word document, turn the wifi off, to remove temptation to “just check email.”
  • Schedule communication checking breaks. When you start a task plan to take a 10-15 minute break at a certain point to check emails and phone messages. The point is to be intentional about the way you use communication devices.
  • Schedule real breaks. Carve out time to do something unrelated to work: lunch with a friend, a workout, or social media browsing time. Again, make it intentional.
  • Be aware.  If you catch yourself doing more than one thing at a time, stop. Decide which one to tackle first, and put the other one aside until the first one is done.

Tell us how your experiment goes!  Post your comments below.