Don’t Multitask

Multitasking just wastes too much time I find. I try to switch from one thing to another, and then forget what I was doing and lose more time than it’s worth re-orienting myself. It’s probably the same for you.

I’ve been trying to just focus on one particular task and get it done, like I did today in creating my free stock gallery. Granted, there were some unwanted interruptions, like phone calls from tele-marketers. If what you’re working on is really important, just turn off the phone. This includes sleep.

The only time I see a need for this needless thrashing about (*answers phone*), is if there’s something that takes a while to complete on it’s own. Like for my stock gallery, it took a couple hours to upload the photos to my server, so I took that time to do other things, because there’s no use waiting around for it to get done. Same if you’re baking a turkey in the oven, or waiting for a garden to grow (heaven forbid you should call that multi-tasking).

The problem with this, is that it’s often hard to judge which processes you should wait for, and which ones you should divert your attention to something else for while they complete. If it takes less than a minute for me to load a photo in Photoshop, it isn’t worth checking my email in the interim (email is a big waste of time anyway). In fact, I’d say anything you have to wait less than a minute for doesn’t deserve multitasking. Drink some water or twiddle your thumbs for that time; you’ll get more done in the long run.

There are benefits to stretching yourself thin, but the costs are quite high to start with. Only do it if you’re waiting for automated processes to complete, or if you’re under strict deadlines requiring you to shift focus. If those deadlines are self-imposed by your over-zealous to-do list, reorganize it to break your tasks into batches, rather than a collection of little chunks. Multitasking is like having a fragmented hard drive—it slows everything down. In fact, even do away with the to-do list and commit everything to memory, because it’s enough of a distraction to have to keep referring back to a list of what you should be able to memorize. I haven’t kept a to-do list in years.

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