A few weeks ago I wrote a post asking “Is multitasking getting us anywhere?” It created quite a bit of activity in my LinkedIn groups and one kind reader reminded me about the The 4 hour work week.
I had read Ferris’ book a few years ago and while his internet entrepreneur shtick is definitely not my cup of tea, he still makes some useful suggestions for ridding ourselves of the scourge of multitasking. Ferris reminds us that 20% of our efforts deliver 80% of our results. That’s what Richard Koch, author of The 80/20 Principle and others have called the Critical Few.
So singletasking is about focusing our efforts on those critical few things that deliver and increase results. Of course, you also have to figure out what area is going to give you those results. And no surprise, that’s where I suggest the theory of constraints (TOC) should play s a big part. That’s because improvements in how you operate your systems constraint (your bottleneck) are going to deliver almost 100% of the increase in your results.
Without specifically referencing TOC, Ferris also recommends outsourcing as many tasks as you can. While the economics he shares don’t always appply, this is still great advice for any business person because no matter your job, you are the system constraint in being able to get more productive work out of your efforts – however you define productive whether that’s more income or more time with family.
By eliminating or outsourcing low value tasks, you save your constrained time for working on the things that you are strongest at – what Richard Koch calls your 80/20 spike.
For work that can’t be outsourced, Ferris also suggests strategies for staying focused. One of those is limiting the number of times you check email to specific times of day. That’s something I recommend for almost everyone unless it’s your job to answer emails – and for most of us that’s just not the case even though we often let email pose as real work.
Next time, I’ll share some of the tools I use to manage my own time and prevent myself from multitasking – and believe me, in my business, that’s not easy. In the meantime, you can check out a quick video from Tim Ferris below: