13 Tips to Stop Multi-tasking and Get More Done

January 23, 2016

Multi-tasking is harmful

Training at the gym and running your company have more in common than you may realize. If you want to build muscle, then key in on focus, determination and single-tasking. You’re not going to be able to press 845 pounds if you’re busy scoping out the gym members, checking text messages or admiring your pump in the mirror. You have to connect with the body part you’re training, concentrate on the muscle group, the weights and that single moment because one wrong move and you’re looking into the eyes of an EMT.

“You’ve got to block out all distractions when you train. Your focus has to be 100% into the rep. You’ve got to get into a zone. You know you’re in the zone when guys in the gym look you in the eye and then quickly turn away ’cause they see the fire. You’ve got to be all business.” – Mike Matarazzo

One task. One thought. One action.

It seems so simple and uncomplicated but as you know, once your alarm detonates the early morning calm, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and make business explode. From the time you grab your first coffee and swipe open your phone or computer, the potential chaos can ensue and your day begins: eyes darting, fingers clicking, brain processing: emails, text messages, children, spouses, news and total data overload and you haven’t even begun to tackle your To Do list.

The problem with multi-tasking is that when you jump from task to task, you aren’t really getting more done. You are actually scattering your focus a little thinner and forcing your brain to consistently shift gears and work harder at a lower level of priority, “ability” and concentration. It’s a brain drain.

Multi-tasking is costly

  1. Increases your stress hormone cortisol
  2. Can reduce your effective IQ by 10 points
  3. Causes information to go to the wrong part of the brain
  4. Burns up oxygenated glucose (the fuel to help keep you on task)
  5. May increase bad decision-making
  6. Reduces focus
  7. Projects may be incomplete or not top quality
  8. Reduces productivity
  9. It actually takes MORE time to complete projects
  10. Amount of errors are increased by 50%


Pause right now and ask yourself “How many things am I doing at this very moment?”

The American Psychological Association on Multi-Tasking:

  1. Psychologists who study what happens to cognition (mental processes) when people try to perform more than one task at a time have found that the mind and brain were not designed for heavy-duty multitasking. Psychologists tend to liken the job to choreography or air-traffic control, noting that in these operations, as in others, mental overload can result in catastrophe.
  2. Multi-tasking may seem efficient on the surface but may actually take more time in the end and involve more error. Meyer has said that even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40 percent of someone’s productive time.

It is clear that multi-tasking is not conducive to enhanced productivity, superb cognitive function or excellency in efficiency. We are a distracted nation, living within technology and not paying attention to being present in the moment, at a single task.

It’s time to bring back your focus, your energy and productivity. If you’re ready here’s a few action steps you can take right now.

13 tips to stop multi-tasking and get more done

  1. Turn off notifications and sounds: the more you have going on at any one time, the less you are able to concentrate on what is in front of you
  2. Set a timer to do focused work for a distraction free zone: a timer enables your brain to dedicate thought and action to one task
  3. Time block your day: assign specific tasks to specific times during the day. It helps to reduce procrastination while maintaining productivity
  4. Batch process emails at most 4 times per day: stopping to read/respond to every email throughout the day is counterproductive
  5. Prioritize and do important things first: this simple tip sets the tone for the rest of your project list. Everything else seems easy and more manageable
  6. Give your brain a break and disconnect from technology at set intervals: reduce data overload and consumption.
  7. Don’t check email first thing in the morning: email can wait. Develop new healthy habits like meditation, yoga, or mindful breathing
  8. Delegate admin and low pay off activities: low payoff activities do not represent the greatest value of your time. Delegate to do more
  9. Break up large projects into small increments with action steps: outlining your complex projects into smaller achievable tasks ensures a greater likelihood of completion and timely delivery
  10. Understand it’s okay to say NO and not take on new projects: more isn’t better. You’re plate is full enough.
  11. Give up busyness and think productivity: being productive is results oriented – Actions. Busyness is well, just taking up your time and not much to show at the end of the day.
  12. Generate some white space in your day: white space is just that, white space without the daily assaults on your brain. Go for a walk, listen to soothing music, journal, go “inward” and just BE.
  13. Commit to change

Developing your new productivity plan of action interrupts crisis mode and chaos, allowing the natural flow for enhanced productivity, less distractions and better time management. What tips will you implement today to “single-task” and get more done?

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