Does Multi-tasking help or harm you?
How could you handle the desire to multitask more effectively?
What fallacies about multitasking does the world currently believe?
Are there ways to be more productive other than multitasking?
How does focus change the way we function in any form of industry?

This podcast gives you an idea of what multitasking is, how it has changed the way people work through time, and how it has created more problems than solving issues as expected.

The information we share in this podcast will help you become more productive and understand the application of multitasking in a much better light. Here are some lessons we want to impart through this podcast:

  • Multitasking destroys your productivity more than build it up.
  • Focus takes practice before it gives you the outcome that you want from the tasks that you give attention to.
  • It is best to complete one task after another instead of doing them all at once.
  • Statistical research requires focus to achieve accuracy.
  • Understanding how to manage time is better than multitasking on several tasks and is more effective than accomplishing all job orders altogether.

This podcast is certainly something that can help everyone in every different industry within and outside the field of statistics.

You’ll learn a lot from this episode and apply them to your own tasks and share it with others as well.

Head on to The Effective Statistician now and increase your productivity today.


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[00:00:00] Alexander: You’re listening to the Effective Statistician Podcast, a weekly show with Alexander Schacht and Benjamin Piske. Designed to help you reach your potential lead great science and serve patients without becoming overwhelmed by work. Today we are really talking about the last part and what multitasking is actually doing to you and how you overcome it, what you can do to become really effective. So stay tuned and now some music

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Welcome to another episode of The Effective Statistician. Benjamin and myself will talk about distractions and multitasking today. Benjamin, what’s your experience with multitasking?

[00:02:21] Benjamin: What are you talking about? Sorry, I was distracted. No, it’s a very common topic, so I mean it. All over every pace of life is distracted.

And I guess we are more focusing now on, on work life, but just look around and see how often now you’re watching your phone while you pass the street. Or, things that happen. So distraction in, it’s just everywhere. And if you’re, if you put this in a positive way, we would call it multitasking.

But actually it’s, to me, it. The same , it’s very similar. Besides that, sometimes distraction is more on the, you want to be distracted by, getting your mindset so that in that sense. But otherwise multitasking is something, that you do when you work, when you when you conferences, from meetings that you have, conferences. You sit there and, read your emails and oh yeah, it’s not so interesting. So I’ll do. Yeah, it’s omnipresent.

[00:03:19] Alexander: Yeah. I really find it interesting that some people even think they are good at multitasking, whereas I think that is a mess. I think you can’t really. Do multiple things at once or at least multiple things that require your brain at once.

You can surely listen to an audiobook or while you’re running or something like this. Yeah. While you are exercising or maybe cleaning up. Things like that. But having two cognitive tasks at the same time, I think is really difficult. I would say it’s even impossible. It’s really switching between tasks.

[00:04:00] Benjamin: Yeah, I agree. But actually, Multi-tasking is often meant to be switching between quick switch between tasks. So when, just imagine you are in conference on a teleconferences and you listen to it and on the my, and you’re writing emails, so your brain switches from one thing to another.

But once focusing here or there it will forget the other one. But I think I, I don’t believe that people good and multitasking. That would be probably always more efficient if they actually spent the time in doing one. And then the other however, There are occasions where I think some people are better in taking the challenge of multitasking.

I don’t actually wanna say it’s a challenge in a positive way. It’s more like the, they basically do multitasking and they still get two things done in the same time. As others would take the double time for doing this in a dis distracted way. Just as an example. So if you are in a teleconference where people are, where just you know that at the end of the teleconference there’s one, one or two topics for you, or they all already have been in the beginning and then you switch your brain to another multitask.

So like writing an email or something. Some people are better in doing it and others just can’t, but try. And that is, I think the what you would normally consider as if somebody’s saying it’s better or, worse in multitasking, it doesn’t mean it’s perfect in a way, but some people can simply switch the brain quickly than others, I believe it can’t by the way. .

[00:05:32] Alexander: Yeah. I can’t to, there’s also a lot of research that such shows that task switching requires, a lot of additional energy and there’s always, quite a lot of kind of lag time and overall you actually lose time. It’s much better. Focus on one thing for longer period. Then make a break and get onto the next one.

[00:05:57] Benjamin: Do you think even like my example with these boring, these teleconferences, which are of, in many ways not your responsibility anymore because you already, and hit your part or it’s. Basically, two minutes that you are needed and then the rest you are actively listing, which is good, but it’s not necessarily where you have such a big, big part, you still think that then adding, writing the email after the teleconference is more efficient than writing it in between.

[00:06:23] Alexander: First, I would say, I know you’re in the wrong context to these meetings. To, if you’re really not required, I think there’s much better ways. Yeah. So for example, if you are just required for five minutes, somewhere in between, ask a moderator to give you a heads up. When once this comes up or just stick to the timing and then you show up on time.

Yeah. That’s another thing. Spending a lot of time in these meetings is a problem in itself. Yeah. And using multitasking. , it’s just an excuse to not addressing the original problem, I would say.

[00:07:05] Benjamin: No, I agree. But this was maybe like a, like an example, which is most present to us, and some people cannot avoid spending some time there for whatever reason.

I, but the but also could be that this is some other. Okay. Cognitive, it’s not necessarily cognitive if you spend, time with your child on the playground while, working or these kind of things or cooking while being in a teleconference.

[00:07:28] Alexander: But really just going back to the example was the child. Yeah. Also the weekend I was actually on a playground with my five year old and I didn’t have my smartphone with me. And it was really good. Initially, sometimes I had the urge to look at it. Yeah. But over time it was easier and it was a much better experience for both my child and for me.

[00:07:57] Benjamin: I agree. It is just if you think it the other way around, it happens that you child is home while you need to work. So at the weekend, that’s a different story. Cause you can concentrate and that’s actually the time that you should be spending with other things than work. But if it’s, during the day, In the afternoon or you will try to speak from kindergarten and your wife partners going the doctor’s appointment with the other child, and then suddenly end up at, 3:00 PM with the little one.

And. So what you do I you, there are situations I’m saying it’s still the cognitive, it’s probably the difference what you initially said is that this is not cognitive work in a way of switching brains between, hardcore brains topic on the playground.

[00:08:38] Alexander: So yeah, will, I think it’s, try to avoid it as much as possible and have times where you can really get focused. Yeah. And of course, if you need to look after your little one Yeah. While doing some work, then probably during this time I would do emails and things like that. Yeah. Where you have very short tasks. Yeah. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re just, interrupted a couple of times.

Yeah. But this is not the tasks that really moves the needle. The tasks that really moves the needle usually require our statisticians to have a longer uninterrupted thinking time. For example, writing the statistical part of a protocol, writing an sap. Thinking through different design options for a study, setting up a simulation for a study, preparing for a presentation, writing manuscript, reviewing manuscript.

All these things really need longer uninterrupted time. Can you wrote a really great book about it called Deep Work. Which I can highly recommend like us, he is a brain worker and he looked into how can you be really productive as a brain worker? And one of the key things he talks about is this ability to focus over long periods of time.

That’s what he calls deep work. It says concept where you spend a longer period of time, undistracted. on a cognitive demanding task, and it’s really interesting, then you really get into the flow of it. You really get deep into the problem, and that’s where you can really make a big progress.

Also, I think then you get much faster because then in one hour you can accomplish much more. Than in six snippets of 10 minutes because you always have this kind of time that you need to get into it to really deep, have your concentration fully there or your thoughts on it.

That always takes some time, and by having these longer period, You don’t lose, refocusing again and again and again.

[00:11:23] Benjamin: Yeah, I think, that’s in theory it’s, I believe it’s true I was right away without reading this book. So it’s, I understand that there’s something behind because there’s something that you experience.

So my work experience lays back like where I suddenly woke up from my, from my work dive in the middle of the night was dark already and I realized, it’s 1:00 AM in the morning and I am I was. Programming on some, I was programming at that time, so that was 15 years ago or something.

So where, which was just like a what was like a, like an event, like something where what? I still remember because I, it was really like a. I was passing away by in work and woke up and realized it’s tackle outside is actually past midnight. Yeah. But that is the, that’s the theory.

But in, in practice, what is the, what are the key, I just imagine, I working home based. It’s already, where people say, I’m getting distracted, or doing like laundry or doing something or just eating or whatsoever somebody comes in or it’s anything. So going in the office, working from home.

So there might be some differences in, in how you could approach it. I would getting any distractions from mobiles or from anything. Emails, so…

[00:12:34] Alexander: I think. Broadly speaking, there’s two different categories of distractions. There’s the internal distractions and there’s the external distractions. So the external distractions is like your phone is buzzing or your chat comes up, or you know there’s a message new email or whatsoever. And these external distractions, to a large extent, you can manage. I’ve turned off all these, notifications. Yeah. My phone isn’t, buzzing and ringing and beeping all time.

Yeah, I see. I look at it when I want to look at it, not because the phone commands me to look at it. Same with, notifications on your desktop. They’re all turned out other than a new meeting is coming. I don’t want to be distracted while working on a document. All these other things, they can all wait. If it’s really urgent, someone will call .

[00:13:39] Benjamin: Yeah. And you didn’t hear it because you put it.

[00:13:41] Alexander: That’s is one of the things that is not, yeah.

[00:13:44] Benjamin: So you mean it’s, it’s primarily, it’s the attitude. So if you want to work. Like deep dive in work or deep work you can, because you know you can remove

[00:13:56] Alexander: And then you can set your environment in such a way.

[00:13:59] Benjamin: Yeah. If you remove the distractions from outside, you would be able to mostly accomplish this if you wanted.

[00:14:08] Alexander: Yeah. The other thing is the internal distractions. Be aware what triggers this. Yeah. So being bored, being hungry, tired, being angry. being whatsoever. Being tired.

These kind of things be, can be triggers for you to get distracted as well.

So one of the reasons why I have, some water at my desk is that, being thirsty doesn’t get me distracted. Always drinking all day. So that I can, get hydrated and yeah. Keep really focused. Is it

[00:14:45] Benjamin: Do you think that for the deep work and the what’s residing you would also need to consider, I as I say, if you’re hungry, tired, so what do you recommend to actually little schedule your day to allow for this?

[00:14:58] Alexander: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:14:59] Benjamin: Meaning you definitely have to go to bed at 10 or you in the morning before you start or whatever you do, lunch break or a breakfast break, and then later on plan and a lunch break to not, so all of these.

[00:15:09] Alexander: I think it’s really important to manage your energy over the day. You can’t manage your time because the time, you know passes by what whatsoever. That you can manage your energy and you can match where you have higher energy with the time where you do deep work. For example, if you are really productive, Early in the morning directly after you start work. Don’t start with shallow tasks like email or expenses or things like that. Start with cognitive demanding tasks during the time you have a lot of energy.

If after my, lunch dip, at between two and three, between three and five, I have another really creative productive period usually in today. Blocks that out so that it’s not distracted as you can, get some work done there. That’s really important. There’s also some techniques how you can improve your overall energy and getting enough sleep is for sure. One of the key things, having a, reasonable diet is another topic. Exercise yet another topic. These are also typical things.

[00:16:26] Benjamin: Yeah. All the nutritions is a different topic. After hangover party, you won’t be able to do it by work.

That’s the way it’s, you realize this when you had like a big heavy lunch, for example, it’s gonna kill your afternoon in terms of consideration. And so this is, yeah. That is the habits that, that you can, you should be watching for yourself. Just looking into this and realizing how your body, and your brain especially is reacting on sleep, food, drinks or whatever.

And yeah, adjusted, not necessarily every day. So don’t, I’m not saying , you shouldn’t have any fun, but it’s really if you know that the next day, for example, you have to. Something. , you really need to concentrate. You shouldn’t, hangover.

[00:17:08] Alexander: Yeah. Yeah. The also kind of con, if you wanna focus on something, yeah. On your desktop, get away. All the other things in words, there is this focus view, whereas then, everything else. Is wiped out and you really just look at the text or you just write then there.

[00:17:30] Benjamin: I never tried that again. This, it’s like a fo like a focus view.

[00:17:33] Alexander: Yeah. So if you go into Word and you look under views, Under immersive says this focus view.

Yeah, it’s everything. And then, everything of in the desktop is pretty much wiped out and you see only the text. . So it’s it’s a really nice way. There’s also, for Google documents for lots of other things, there’s similar versions.

Yeah. Then you’re really only doing. So the other thing is, Having some kind of clean desk. I’m not really not good at that. gave me another topic. Yeah.

[00:18:10] Benjamin: I’m glad you are not sharing a video on this podcast. So otherwise I wanna show my desk too.

[00:18:17] Alexander: Yeah, but there’s also other things like, what do you have on your smartphone?

Maybe, just delete your Facebook app or TikTok or these kind of things. Takes them out, says that you don’t get distracted by these.

[00:18:34] Benjamin: Yeah. Maybe isn’t, maybe there’s a function on the phone as well to maybe just block it during the day or like at a specific time.

[00:18:41] Alexander: Yeah. Yeah. There’s surely some apps.

[00:18:43] Benjamin: Yeah, or if you really focus on something particularly today or whatever, just turn it off to silent mode or flight mode and then it will, that will that.

[00:18:54] Alexander: So we talked today quite a lot about multitasking, distractions, and why is so important that you manage these poster your internal and external distractions? Because deep work is where our most productive work happens. By the way, that doesn’t mean only, work with yourself alone can also.

Like Benjamin and myself, just, recording a podcast, having a one-to-one meeting together, having a brainstorming sessions together, these type of things can also be deep work. Doesn’t necessarily need to be alone, but it’s focused work and producing something of high quality. Your brain really needs to be up to speed over a longer period of time. And so there is lots of ways how you can manage your distractions, your internal and your external ones. And I highly recommend readings this book by Carl Newport. So there’s another one about a book called Indestructible puts the link to that in session notes as well. Any final thoughts from you, Benjamin, about distractions?

[00:20:07] Benjamin: Yeah, no just as a recall, we talked two years ago about the, your co, your calendar and how to use Outlook and how to use efficient time management for yourself. I think that is something that really comes in place as well for, use blocking time. You mentioned it before. Really take the time that you need for specific tasks and don’t say yeah, next morning I’ll take care of this. But really block it, really mean it. Like the distractions will, the internal distractions you have to manage differently, but the external ones especially coming from the from your work. Courts, meetings, whatever, block yourself and then take the time to really focus on your task that we ahead.

[00:20:44] Alexander: Yep. Thanks so much for listening to this episode, and talk to you next week.

[00:20:48] Benjamin: Bye-bye.

[00:20:53] Alexander: Don’t forget to head over to the and sign up for the library with all the free content. The show was created in association with PSI. Thanks to Reine and Casey help with the show in the background. And thank you for listening. Reach your potential lead great science and serve patient. Just be effective statistician.

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