Regardless of what you think, I only have 100% to give

Have you ever thought about how much of yourself you have to give? I often hear "I'm 110 percent invested in thing x". This isn't possible. We all only have 100 percent to give.

I totally understand the idea of saying "I'm 110 percent invested" is to assure others I'm totally invested, but there are two critical failures here:

  1. We can only offer 100 percent of ourselves. I can't muster an extra 10 percent. If I could, that would become my new 100 percent.

  2. I'm negatively invested everywhere else. If I could give 110% to just one thing, inevitably any other task I attempt will be negatively impacted by at least 10 percent.

I only have 100 percent to give. And that's if I'm fully efficient.

Why do we set these unrealistic expectations for ourselves? What makes me think that I am the exception, that I have any more than 100 percent of myself to give?

We can't perform two tasks at 100 percent efficiency. I can hardly do one thing at 100 percent efficiency.

Multi-Tasking: The Silent Killer of Productivity

This fatal flaw, that we can give more than 100 percent, rears it's head anytime I hear someone talking about multi-tasking.

I read a productivity hack on LinkedIn from an entrepreneur who works on her power points while she works out. I love maximizing time as much as anyone else, but multi-tasking is a myth. We can't do two things at 100 percent efficiency. I can hardly do one thing at 100 percent efficiency.

If I'm doing two tasks at once, they're each going to be at a reduced capacity. What's worse is I'm really performing three tasks: The first two tasks and a third task of balancing out the first two.

Kill the Multi-Tasking Myth

If you value your time as much as I do, it's hard to give up multi-tasking. But I believe in you, that you can give up multi-tasking and stay productive. To help you get started, here are some things I've found boosted my productivity.

Say No. A lot.

I created a list of 11 cannonballs, or themes, for my life, and this list has been the guide to how I decide whether to say yes or no. If it's not a cannonball, I say no.

I've found saying no to certain requests means I have "less" to do, which means I have more time to focus on the things I've decided are important for me right now. Because I have more time, multi-tasking is less of an issue.

Pop in Headphones

I realize not everyone works in an environment where headphones are acceptable, but if you do, put them in. Create playlists that you know will help you focus, invest in a good pair of headphones, and go beast mode on one task.

I listen to music in the mornings while I work at home and it's helps me stay focused and on task.

To help get you started, some of the "sounds" I use are:

Create A Manageable Todo List

If you're todo list for today has more than 4 attainable tasks, you need to prune. If you're not using a todo list, try out Wunderlist, any.do or if you use github, a github todo list.

If you have an item that hangs out on your todo list for longer than a day, break it down into multiple attainable tasks and only put one to four of those on your todos for today.

Keep doing this until you're eventually creating "done in a day" tasks every time. This approach will take up more time in the beginning, but it'll make you better at estimating the time tasks take and give you a better sense of getting things done.

Use a timer and work in short bursts

I have an app called Healthier that I use for splitting up my working minutes and resting minutes. It forces me to stop and take a break, but it also enables me to set a period of time to focus on one thing. It's loosely based on the Pomodoro Technique, which I recommend checking out.

Multi-tasking is not a baby and the bathwater issue

There is some effective multi-tasking: listening to Podcasts while walking my dog or while filling our water containers is generally productive. Anytime I can perform a task that requires little mental overhead alongside a passive task, I'll do it, but I consider this situation a one-off.

Stop trying to multi-task the important things. Give 100 percent of yourself to one thing at a time. If you're trying to multi-task you'll find that you're actually wasting time, will power and defeating the objective of multi-tasking.

So what do you think: Can you multi-task and still give each task 100 percent or is it a myth that multi-tasking truly saves you time?