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Why multitasking is killing your ability to perform to your potential

Having trouble getting all those items crossed off your to-do list? Trust me, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!! Juggling work life, school life, practice life, and social life is no easy feat!

Manage your energy NOT your time.

There are 2 HUGE mistakes most make that we think helps alleviate stress, but it actually HARMS us!!

It’s Aja here and I was a competitive gymnast for 11 years and my school year schedule was nonstop!!

I set 3 alarms every night to wake me up for 5:20am. School started at 7:15am, and after a full day of learning, school let out at 2:45pm.

But gym practice started at 3:30 and I went to school 35 minutes away, so every day I would head directly from school to practice with about 10 minutes to spare. In those few extra minutes, I changed into my leo and worked on homework. Practice would end at 7:30pm, and I ended my long days with a shower, finishing homework, eating dinner, and setting my alarms to start the cycle all over again the next day.

A glimpse into my crazy school year schedule probably looks similar to the schedules of our athletes transitioning back into school!

Around this time, athletes begin to experience physical and mental fatigue which:

  • Decreases motivation
  • Increases rate of mistakes
  • Leads to burnout

You may begin to hear:

  • “I just have so much on my plate!”
  • “I’m tired!”
  • “Oh crap that assignment is due today and I completely forgot!”

I hear it from my athletes all the time!!

Our biggest obstacles during this time are fatigue and time management!

But what if I told you we contribute to the problem!?

Here are the 2 biggest time management methods that we use to help our productivity, but in doing so, we make it WORSE!

Multitasking – Multitasking is Not Effective!

Our brain can only focus on ONE THING at a time!

When we think we are multitasking, our brain is actually rapidly switching back and forth between each task which decreases our efficiency by 40%.

Although you may feel like you are saving time, you are actually using up your working memory resources which leads to greater mental fatigue, and you become less observant which makes you more prone to make mistakes!

Instead… Focus on one thing at a time! You’ve all heard it before, but don’t discount its effectiveness!

You will find that you are less mentally fatigued, and you produce higher quality outcomes.

We want to encourage our athletes to be efficient in their efforts by not dividing their attention.

For example, a student who completes their homework while the teacher is teaching new material in class is less likely to get a good grade on their homework and didn’t fully retain as much of the information in class for the upcoming test as compared to the student who set aside time outside of class to complete their homework and gave their full attention during class.

The second thing that harms our productivity while also increasing burnout is:

Prioritizing our Time over our Energy!

Traditionally, we fill our to do lists by scheduling every minute with something to complete in order to increase productivity. “Oh I have that 5 minutes before I have to go pick up the kids, I will send off those emails then.” Or like in my busy school year schedule above, I worked on my homework in the few minutes I had before gym practice as opposed to renewing my energy to train.

That may seem like a great method to stay on track and get all of your tasks done, but oftentimes, you will find that you didn’t complete everything on your list, and even if given the time to do so, you have no energy to complete anything.

That is because the focus we place on completing things within a specified amount of time comes from a machine centered way of viewing productivity; however, we are humans, and shouldn’t expect ourselves to perform like machines.

Instead…

Manage your ENERGY, not your TIME!

Using this human centered approach takes into consideration the fluctuation of energy that one will experience throughout the day as opposed to a machine centered approach that assumes our fuel stays constant throughout the day.

The COOL thing is, ENERGY IS A RENEWABLE RESOURCE! This method of productivity encourages you to maintain a balance of expending energy and renewing energy.

As you organize your day, prepare for a fluctuation of energy by planning your tasks around the highs and lows of exertion.

Here is what that looks like:

You know you have a report to complete that drains you? Complete that task first thing in the morning when your energy is high, then follow that up with a moment of recovery or a low energy task rather than jumping into the next draining assignment at only 20% energy.

Teaching our athletes how to best manage their back-to-school schedule keeps their mental game strong while reducing fatigue and burnout!

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