More about the evils of multitasking

I’ve written a couple of times about my belief that multitasking is neither efficient nor productive. You can see those posts here and here.

I was glad last month to see another Phoenician, Jennifer Furrier, weigh in the subject. In an interview in the Arizona Republic, she said that for most people, organization is difficult and nearly impossible when multitasking.

“One of the biggest things to understand,” she said, “is that though we can physically do many things at one time, multitasking decreases productivity by over 40 percent.”

Jennifer owns Essential Organizing of Phoenix and Scottsdale, and she’s in the business of helping people become more organized and productive.

Some of her tips include:

  • Each day, identify your top three critical tasks. Complete one before you start checking email, which can be a distraction that draws you into all kinds of wormholes. (My words, not hers.)
  • Be strategic. Tackle the hardest task first, and the rest of the day will fall into place.
  • Set a power hour. Budget at least 60 minutes to dive into your work, and make sure that it’s distraction-free.
  • Eliminate friction points. These are actions that add a few seconds or minutes to tasks. Have your most-used phone numbers on speed dial. Use keyboard short cuts when typing. Each small friction point doesn’t seem like much of a time waster, but over a week, the points can add up.
  • Silence alert tones. Turn off alerts on cell phones, email, Twitter and any other item that makes noise. When you’re trying to focus, these bells and whistles are much too distracting.
  • Set priorities for your to-do list. At the end of the day, assess what you’ve accomplished and what you need to tackle tomorrow.
  • Use the trash can. We don’t use about 80 percent of what we keep, and the resulting clutter is one more enemy of productivity. If you don’t have a reason to keep something, pitch it or recycle it.

I’ve never met Jennifer, but I wouldn’t hesitate to send someone looking for help her way. Check out her website!

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