Time Management: Why You Shouldn't Multitask

Photo by mdwombat

Photo by mdwombat

You would think that while writing a post about why we should stop multitasking I would have been present, turned off all distractions and had 100% focus on penning this entry. Yeah, that didn't happen. I had multiple tabs open in my browser, gchatted, checked Twitter, looked at the weather, made breakfast, and took a "break" to reply to emails. This is a lesson in what not to do. I caught myself—as I often do—and turned off all distractions but Spotify, since listening to music isn't multitasking and I find it to be essential to my creativity.

Step back and be honest with yourself: you love to multitask. Accomplishing five (or ten) completely different tasks simultaneously feels pretty fantastic. But, are you really being more productive? Absolutely not. Will you still continue to do it? Absolutely.

I prided myself on what a great multitasker I was, until I realized it was only giving me the feeling of being more productive. Pride quickly morphed into guilt. This so-called multitasking took its toll on my work. My mindset of "getting stuff done" was stifling my creativity. It's gratifying to cross tasks off the list, but when you rush through your list you lose focus on the meaning behind what you were trying to achieve. You added each task for a reason. Respect that.

Here are a few tips on how I maximize my productivity:

  1. Focus on a single task. When your brain isn't focusing on multiple tasks the quality of your work will increase and you'll "get stuff done."
  2. Start (and use) a to-do list. I keep a digital list with Wunderlist and use a Moleskine Daily Planner to give me the satisfaction of manually crossing the task out.
  3. Take a break (or power nap). You'll be surprised at the effectiveness of a break. A 10-minute walk around the block, or a 15-minute power nap can do wonders. Costanza was onto something.

I use these tips for personal tasks as well. If I do the dishes, fold the laundry, and vacuum simultaneously, I'll fail (and probably drop one of the tasks from my list). If I focus on the dishes I'll get everything done and, often times, faster than I thought. Works every time.

How do you maximize your productivity? Do you have any tips to add? I'd love your feedback!