For All of You Multi-Taskers Out There

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I can’t exactly point fingers and say, “Hey you!,” unless I’m pointing a finger at myself. I’m as guilty as the next ‘texting while walking, while eating lunch, while sending out e-mails, while checking off my to do list’ person. However, I read this recent article titled “The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time” by Tony Schwartz in the Harvard Business Review (as I also ate my breakfast and answered my e-mails!) and it sparked some questions…


How productive am I really? And can I improve my productivity?

Schwartz says that multi-tasking is actually counterproductive. He says,

In part, that’s a simple consequence of splitting your attention, so that you’re partially engaged in multiple activities but rarely fully engaged in any one. In part, it’s because when you switch away from a primary task to do something else, you’re increasing the time it takes to finish that task by an average of 25 per cent. But most insidiously, it’s because if you’re always doing something, you’re relentlessly burning down your available reservoir of energy over the course of every day, so you have less available with every passing hour.

He offers some great advice at both the managerial and individual level. Since so many of us Dd-ers are work-a-holics and constantly juggling multiple projects at once, I thought it might be helpful to look into some of his words of wisdom. To read Schwartz’s recommendations on how to make the most out of your work and play time, click here.

Schwartz also has his own interesting endeavor called The Energy Project. The project is a avant garde sort of consulting firm, helping companies and employees understand how to manage their time in realistic and productive ways. The ultimate goal…increase company productivity and employee morale. They up the anti by uping individuals’ energy and awareness. It’s actually a cool concept!

Life is crazy all the time, but I think there’s some real weight in what Schwartz is saying – it’s nice to think about searching for something more concrete and stable amongst a nutso, go-go-go society.


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  • Kristin

    I have heard this phenomenon referred to as ‘continuous partial attention’ — an epidemic of our culture and generation!! I am so guilty of this and am looking forward to reading Schwartz’s suggestions – thanks for this post!

  • candice

    Me too! I have been trying over this last year to not feel pressed to respond to every email the exact second I read it and instead have a set time when I respond to emails. It is hard to stick to though. I am going to write soon about my trip to Tulum because my time spent ‘retreating’ has really made me think a lot about how I have been overworking under-renewing. This is such an important issue!

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