wikiHow to Avoid Multi Tasking

Multitasking; switching back and forth between activities of varying complexity, has become both a workplace and household catchphrase of the millennium. Unlike generations before, 24/7 is the lifestyle for us - like using the hand phone while driving and losing control of the car, increased anxiety, a sense of feeling overwhelmed by various demands, physical-mental burnout and depression.[1]

You’re working on two projects at once, while your boss has placed two new demands on your desk. You’re on the phone while three new emails come in. You are trying to get out the door on time so you can pick up a few groceries on the way home for dinner. Your Blackberry is going off and so is your cell phone. Your co-worker stops by with a request for info and your Google Reader is filled with 100+ messages to read. You are juggling tasks with a speed worthy of Ringling Bros. Congratulations, multi-tasker.

In this age of instant technology, we are bombarded with an overload of information and demands of our time. Even having a system designed for quick decisions and for keeping all the demands of your life in order can't prevent us from being so overwhelmed with things to do that our system begins to fall apart.

This article is how not to multi-task — a guide to working as simply as possible for the sake of preserving your mental health and keeping your bodily health intact.


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    Get clear on why it is a bad thing to multi-task.
    • Multi-tasking is less efficient, due to the need to switch gears for each new task, and then switch back again.
    • Multi-tasking is more complicated, and thus more prone to stress and errors.
    • Multi-tasking can be crazy, and in this already chaotic world, we need to rein in the terror and find a little oasis of sanity and calm.
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    Start avoiding multi-tasking. The remaining steps demonstrate how to stop multi-tasking and start approaching your tasks in a zen-like manner that will provide a much calmer work method.
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    Set up separate to-do lists for different contexts. This means having to-do lists related to such things as calls, computer, errands, home, waiting-for, etc., depending on your situation.
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    Use a capture tool. A capture tool, such as a notebook, can be used for instant notes on what needs to be done.
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    Have a physical and e-mail inbox. Make sure to have as few in-boxes as possible, so that all incoming stuff is gathered together in one place. Basically, have one in-box for paper stuff, and one for digital.
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    Plan your day in blocks. Have open blocks in between for urgent stuff that comes up. You might try one-hour blocks, or half-hour blocks, depending on what works for you. Or try this: 40 minute blocks, with 20 minutes in between them for miscellaneous tasks.
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    First thing in the morning, work on your Most Important Task. Don’t do anything else until this is done. Give yourself a short break, and then start on your next Most Important Task. If you can get 2-3 of these done in the morning, the rest of the day is gravy.
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    When you are working on a task in a time block, turn off all other distractions. Shut off e-mail, and the internet if possible. Shut off your cell phone. Try not to answer your phone if possible. Focus on that one task, and try to get it done without worrying about other stuff.
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    If you feel the urge to check your email or switch to another task, stop yourself. Breathe deeply. Re-focus yourself. Get back to the task at hand. If other things come in while you’re working, put them in the in-box, or take a note of them in your capture system. Get back to the task at hand.
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    Every now and then, when you’ve completed the task at hand, process your notes and in-box. Add the tasks to your to-do lists and re-figure your schedule if necessary. Process your e-mail and other in-boxes at regular and pre-determined intervals.
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    Take deep breaths, stretch, and take breaks now and then. Enjoy life. Go outside, and appreciate nature. Keep yourself sane.


  • There are times when an interruption is so urgent that you cannot put it off until you’re done with the task at hand. In that case, try to make a note of where you are (writing down notes if you have time) with the task at hand, and put all the documents or notes for that task together and aside (perhaps in an “action” folder or project folder). Then, when you come back to that task, you can pull out your folder and look at your notes to see where you left off.
  • Identify the source of frequent distraction if any. Find out the causes and try to eliminate them.

Things You'll Need

  • Lists

Sources and Citations

  • Original source of article from the very generous Zen Habits. Please feel free to visit and support copyright free information providers.
  1. Crystalinks Multitasking

Article Info

Categories: Improving Productivity