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Stop Multitasking and Watch Your Productivity Soar and Your Stress Melt Away!

By · 11/22/2011


Okay…..I can hear you now…..


”She’s crazy – Doesn’t she know that I’m a wife, a mom, I have a job, I have to keep everyone’s calendars straight, do homework with the kids, carpool, go shopping, cook dinner, go to PTA meetings, and watch my kid’s games!!” Just to name a few.

I hear you and I totally empathize.  But, here is what research is telling us.  Multitasking not only decreases our production, it makes it harder for us to finish tasks completely.  And because of our lack of focus and sloppy performance, our end products aren’t coming out as well as we’d like them to.   

People and projects need our undivided attention.  If I’m watching T.V., checking email and doing homework with my son, do you think I am really paying attention to the questions he is asking me?  Of course not!  Our minds are not wired to focus intently on multiple, important things at once. 

It’s become an epidemic…..the most famous “bad” example of course, is texting and driving….and we all know how tragic that has become.  What drives us to try and do so much at once?  We spin our wheels and still feel like our to-do lists are endless.  Here’s how to get off the roller coaster:

Learn to live in the moment.  Really listen when someone is talking to you.  How many times have you been distracted and had to have someone repeat themselves to you?  All that time adds up.  If you are doing something fun, enjoy that special time, don’t work on other things.  Being in the moment helps you create and solidify your memories.    

Concentrate upon the task at hand.  Set a timer if you have to – it really helps.  If you give your full attention to one task for 15 minutes, you will be amazed at your progress.  Don’t answer the phone or check a text.  Just focus!!

Dovetail rather than multitask.  An example of dovetailing is when you keep a project in your purse to work on while you are in the waiting room at the doctor’s office.  Another example would be opening the mail or sorting through photos while watching T.V., or calling a friend while you’re waiting in the parking lot for practice to get over.  Use those countless chunks of wasted time to your advantage and see how they add up.  Keep a project bag in the back of your car for all of these occasions.    

Remember what multitasking is NOT!  Cleaning the kitchen while you are cooking a meal is just good planning, not multitasking.  Having a load of laundry going while you are cleaning the house is just smart time management.  Reading a book when you’re in the tub is just…..awesome relaxation. 


Teach yourself time-saving tricks.  If you have projects that you do often or annually, getting into routines will save you a lot of hassle.  For example emptying all the garbage cans on the day before the garbage truck comes and putting extra liners at the bottom of all the waste baskets so you never have to search for one. 


Here are two of my favorite time saving Christmas tricks:


Take pictures of your decorations each year.  If you loved the way your fireplace mantle turned out, snap a photo and when you put your decorations away, put all of those decorations in one box.  Label the box “fireplace” and tape a photo of it on either the outside of the box or the inside lid.  Next year the decorations with go up in half the time.  No thinking necessary.   


Rather than hand addressing all of your Christmas cards, put your addresses into your computer. Now click on Tools, then Letters and Mailings, then Envelopes and Labels. Next, type in all of your addresses and every year all you have to do is a quick update, put in your label sheets and hit print.  It saves a TON of time and they always look great. 


  1. Lauren Rose says:

    I can really relate to this post. I used to pride myself on multitasking, but came to realize that having a work/life balance is an assault on reason. You can’t give two things 100%, and giving 50% to both doesn’t work either. So what’s a working mom to do? Your suggestion to “be in the moment” is spot on and just plain good manners. How is it possible to NOT do this? Yet, I feel the struggle when I’m mid-email and the phone rings or someone walks into my office. Or, when I’m with my son and a work email pops up on my iPhone. Thank you for all the valuable tips!

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