I have written about the downsides of multitasking and proposed an alternative called chunking. Here’s a previous post, but the bullets look like this:
- Multitasking reduces our effectiveness – several studies now prove it
- In today’s crazy world, focusing on one thing – one project – one task is a luxury most don’t have
- Chunking is a good alternative that offers the benefits of focus and flexibility.
I have been using chunking with great success. Someone who I told about chunking, tried it and loved it too. But last week she told me she has fallen back a bit and is now multichunking.
No, no, no…..
Multichunking is multitasking in lamb’s clothing. Chunking means carving out blocks of time to work on one task, project, or activity. The blocks should be at least one hour long and you should get in several two-hour chunks per week.
Chunking works best when you schedule blocks of time in advance. Even though your schedule might change, it is better to schedule 20 chunking hours and achieve ten 10 hours than to struggle to take a few hours to focus after your schedule has filled up. It is also helpful to create some regularity with your schedule when possible. This helps people learn when you are available and when you wish to be left undisturbed. Here is a sample chunking schedule:
- Monday: 8:00—10:00AM, 1:00—2:00PM
- Tuesday: 8:00—9:00AM, 1:00—2:00PM, 2:00—4:00PM
- Wednesday: 8:00—9:00AM, 1:00—2:00PM
- Thursday: 8:00—9:00AM, 1:00—2:00PM
- Friday: 8:00—9:00AM, 1:00—2:00PM, 2:00—4:00PM
This schedule includes fifteen 15 hours of chunking. Some of those time frames slots will not work out, but imagine what you could accomplish if you were able to focus for even eight 8 of these hours. Friday afternoons are great times to use chunking to focus. There are fewer scheduled meetings and it feels great to end the week on a high!
Here is a SIMPLE tool that I use to help me chunk. I use this tool to cover 2-3 days. You could use it for a day or a week. It is a simple Word Doc file for a legal size folding to-do list organized by chunk. I like this because I can keep track of all the little things I need to do and then rally tackle chunks fully. And it fits into a pocket.
You can print this out as is, or type stuff into it and then print out. The objective is to get it on one piece of legal sized paper using both sides. Holding the paper, fold it vertically, so that it is one long and skinny sheet. Then fold the three sections accordion style so that the Definition of Success Reminders and Grand Slam Goals are on the two outside surfaces. You can refold the sheet to see and focus on any one block.
Definition of success Reminders: These are statements, beliefs, your mantra, and suggestions that you say to yourself and that help you be most successful. They might include statements like these:
- Remember the 80/20 rule
- Does this help us meet our goals?
- Is this the BEST use of our time?
- Don’t get sidetracked!
Grand Slam Goals: These goals articulate what a grand slam would look like in 2006 for you, your team, and/or the company.
Give chunking and my worksheet a try! Modify it and make your own version (if you do, I would love to see it).