The Handiness of Unitasking.

My husband laughs at me when I say I’m a multitasker.  “I hope it doesn’t say ‘multitasker’ on your resume” is a common household expression at our place.  And lately I feel like I’ve been multitasking like crazy but also feel that I’m getting much less done.  So I decided to try out unitasking and see if I fair any better.

First, I examined my typical workday:  I get into the office, turn on my computer, and wait 20 minutes for the thing to finish loading completely (it’s an old beast of a computer, which is, thank goodness, getting replaced today).  During that 20 minutes, I distract myself with voicemails, usually needing to listen to them twice because I missed important details because I was multitasking my way through the paper as I listened…  Computer finally boots up, and I open my work e-mail.  I read through all my e-mails, respond to ones which I deem are “easy” and leave the rest to a later time.  Then I check my iGoogle homepage, which houses my Google Reader, my twitter gadget, CNN headlines, and a few other random widgets.  And this is where I get very easily distracted.  Once I tear myself away from iGoogle, it’s back to work e-mails, where I answer the next round of “easy” e-mails, leaving still more to be answered at a later time.

By lunch I’m starting to feel like I haven’t accomplishd much at all.  So, I tackle the “difficult” e-mails, which it turns out weren’t really that difficult after all.  I spend the afternoon creating workshops, responding to more e-mails, taking more appointments, and generally jumping from one task to the next without a clear plan or end point.  I should mention that throughout this entire process, I’m listening to NPR all day long and leave my door open constantly so the risk of distraction is pretty high in my office.

Starting on Monday, I will incorporate the following rules of unitasking into my daily schedule:

1. When settling into work, I will spend however long it takes responding to e-mails until they are DONE.

2.  I will ignore outside links in e-mails which have the potential to distract me for hours at a time ( anyone?), but which have NO bearing on me accomplishing my work.

3. I will NOT look at my iGoogle homepage until all my work e-mails are completed.

4.  I will only twitter at certain times of day for 5-10 minutes at a time.  Enough is enough.  ps- find me on Twitter at :)

5. I will turn off my e-mail when I am creating workshops or doing other projects so that I’m not interrupted by the lovely little bell that dings every time I get a new message.

6. I will listen to more jazz and classical music at work, and less NPR, because, even though I love you NPR, I am often so often compelled by your stories to research them further online that I am once again distracted from the task at hand.

7.  I will shut my door when I need to concentrate to send a clear message that now’s not a great time.

Are you a multitasker who doesn’t get anything done?  Or have you reformed your multitasking ways into a unitasking lifestyle?  Do you have any tips on how to achieve such a state of bliss?  Comments please!

One reply on “The Handiness of Unitasking.”

  1. Hi! I laughed and kept shaking my head in agreement while reading this post. Your day sounds like mine.

    I have already begun my de-cluttering and unfortunately it does work. No more radio, no more tweets from tweetdeck, and no more igoogle until I have read the morning emails and gotten at least one task accomplished. It isn’t as fun but it more productive.

    You can do it!

    Kris Plantrich

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