If you have been in the workforce in the past several decades, you’ve almost certainly heard that multitasking is this amazing skill to have that allows you to do several things at the same time and be super productive.
Turns out that’s wrong.
“Multitasking” was a buzzword before even “buzzword” was a buzzword, but now the science is in and it turns out that multitasking is a productivity killer and as a franchise business owner, you should most definitely encourage your staff to eschew multitasking and instead concentrate on monotasking.
As its name implies, multitasking is the act of performing more than one activity at a time. When you were a child, that was rubbing your belly while patting your head. As a franchise business owner, that might mean writing a report while you field phone calls, write emails and try to find someone to fill in for Kevin, who just called in sick.
Our technology evolved so it could do more tasks at the same time and we were expected to evolve right along with it, but multitasking is no longer seen as an effective way to work. Recent studies show that it can actually be bad for us by:
- Harming brains physically
- Shortening attention spans
- Impairing memory
- Damaging relationships with others
- Increasing stress, depression and social anxiety
- Putting people in physical danger
- Decreasing productivity and efficiency
Those are all bad things, but for franchise business owners, it’s that last one that stands out. You’re still likely to see “ability to multitask” listed on people’s resumes, as they cling to the outdated notion that it is a desirable trait. But, rather than encouraging your staff to multitask or even try to multitask, you should be encouraging people to monotask.
As that name implies, monotasking is when you focus on a single task at a time and give that task your full attention. Concentrating on only one task at a time means being more productive because you perform a given duty until completion before you turn your attention to a new one.
Shifting from a culture of multitasking to one of monotasking in your franchising business will have to start at the top, meaning you, the owner, will have to adopt a monotasking mindset and lead by example by:
Behaving in a way that you want others to behave
In meetings, close your laptop, put your phone on silent and flip it over so you can give your full attention to whoever is speaking. Resist the urge to interrupt meetings to take calls or do other things.
Making monotasking the new normal
Encourage your employees to adopt monotasking as the new unofficial work policy in your franchise business. This can start with meetings. Just as you put everything else on hold to pay attention to whoever is speaking, encourage others to do the same. Immediately after meetings, ask for thoughts and opinions from everyone. This will get them to pay attention more.
From there, you can encourage people to concentrate on one task at a time while they work.
Encouraging more effective use of time
Part of the reason people resort to multitasking is that they don’t feel like they have enough time to do everything, so they try to perform multiple duties at once. Encourage employees to create blocks of time for themselves and try to perform a task during that block of time rather than doing multiple things at once.
As a franchise business owner, you can do this by assigning different tasks to different days. Mondays might be administrative work, while Tuesdays could be earmarked for concentrating on marketing efforts and Wednesdays could be your property maintenance day, etc.
It’s important to remember that monotasking doesn’t mean doing only a single thing for your entire working shift. Obviously, in places like restaurants and retail stores, employees will have multiple things they need to be doing. Monotasking just means that whichever one of their tasks they happen to be doing at a given time that task gets their full attention until it is done and they move onto a different one.
Here at FranNet, our consultants monotask by giving clients their full attention. If you believe you’re ready to take that first step toward business ownership, sign up for a free FranNet franchise search and consultation today.