Is multi-tasking worth it?


After scouring the self-help time management literature out there, much of it I believe we know (i.e., plan out your day, focus on your 1-3 priorities, turn your phone off when working on a project, delegate and so on). If your days work like some of mine, those aren’t always relevant. I can’t turn my phone off, essentially I’m on call (for you and your families) all the time - much like pastors. Although, admittedly I could turn off my ‘new email’ notification (and many other notifications) while I am working on a project. Out of everything I’ve read, these few suggestions have been the most helpful to me - hopefully they will be to you too:

  • Don’t let unimportant details drag you down. Complete the ‘gist’ of the project, THEN go back and revise details. Sometimes the things we work so hard at fix themselves if we complete the project in its entirety.
  • When making a To-Do list, assume everything is going to take at least twice as long as you think it will. I am guilty of this and before I know it, I am behind on my list and I am anxious about it. Turns out there is a relatively easy fix!
  • Think of time like money. We all work with financial budgets: money goes in, money goes out and hopefully you have some money leftover. If you were to create a “Time Budget,” how much of your day would you want to set aside for projects/tasks that move your commitments forward and how much time do you want to set aside for things that don’t move your commitments forward?
Don’t think of your entire list of things to do, this is an easy way to be overwhelmed! Make a short daily to do list based on today’s priorities, not based on the things you haven’t gotten done yet from yesterday or last week. After all, you can only focus on one thing at a time.

This leads into my last tip: Don’t try to multitask. Studies by experts like Clifford Nass at Stanford show that we are way less productive when we are jumping from task to smartphone to task at hand. * This may mean you should keep the distractions you love, out of sight (ie: cell phone, social media) and out of your computer tabs.