By Gail Doby, ASID
CVO and Co-Founder of Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting
Two skills every successful designer needs are time management and the ability to concentrate in the midst of chaos. Without them you can easily find yourself overwhelmed by all the demands being placed upon you. Although it may seem counterintuitive, the key to getting more done is to take things one at a time.
In today’s “multitasking” culture, we’ve been led to believe that we can divide our attention up and parcel it out. We can do one thing with our eyes, another with our hands, and yet another with our voice all at the same time, all equally as well, and be three times as productive. But that is a myth.
Research has shown that multitasking is in fact less effective, and more prone to error, than focusing your attention on a particular task and completing it before going on to another. For many people, multitasking may reduce their productivity by as much as 40 percent. If that weren’t enough, more recent studies have shown frequent multitasking may also cause permanent harm to the brain.
It turns out that when we focus, the left and right sides of our brain work in tandem, each bringing its own strengths to the task at hand. When we attempt to multitask, the two sides are pulled in different directions, diminishing our effectiveness at each task. Moreover, it takes longer for the brain to recalibrate when that happens. By some accounts, it can take between 10 to 20 minutes for the brain the switch from predominantly left- or right-brained activity to its opposite. The more switching you do throughout the day, the less actual work gets done.
Whether you’re working at a project site or conducting business at your office, you’ll accomplish more by concentrating on the most important tasks for that day, prioritizing them, and then tackling them one at a time. Although you can’t eliminate all distractions, you can minimize them by silencing phone calls and text message alerts while working, closing your office door if you have one, and by setting a schedule with staff as to when you are available in your office or for daily debriefing sessions.
Running an interior design business is highly demanding. The more successful you become, the more demanding it is. Try to keep in mind that it’s not how busy you are that makes you successful; it’s what you accomplish. You can control that. Prioritize, focus and concentrate. The other stuff can wait or be delegated to someone else.