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The motive behind multitasking is noble. If we have a lot on our plates, it makes sense to try to take on many tasks at once so we give each task equal time and effort.

The problem is, this doesn’t work. What’s more, multitasking actually lessens the quality of your work.

We multitask to feel emotionally productive, according to a study mentioned in a Huffington Post article, even though we aren’t actually being productive. So while we might feel better about ourselves when we multitask, the truth is it adversely effects our productivity.

Here are a few ways to get yourself out of the habit of multitasking:

1. Prioritize

The worst thing you can do when bombarded by obligations is address them equally and simultaneously, even though we’re naturally inclined to do so. Decide what task is most important, and then do that.

2. Focus and Finish

You might feel yourself getting pulled out of this first, most important task and back into the pile of others things. Don’t get sucked back in! You have one thing to do now; nothing else matters. Do not allow yourself to be distracted until the most urgent task gets checked off the list. Then, move on.

3. Let go of the  little things

Under stress, it’s natural to lump a bunch of unrelated stressors into one big, scary beast that wants you to fail. In reality, most of the time you may have 3-5 very important things to do, and then perhaps another handful of not-so-important things to do. By prioritizing, focusing and finishing, you’ll begin to discern between the big things and the little things, and the scary beast will start to evaporate (since it was all in your mind anyway). Then, you’ll be able to let go of the things that merely add to your stress but don’t necessarily need immediate addressing.

If you’re used to multitasking, at first you may feel less productive after adopting a singularly-focused work-style. But soon you’ll get used to it, and see how much more efficient you are when you give one thing your undivided attention.

Huffington Post. “Multitasking Makes People Feel Better, Even Though It’s Not Efficient: Study.” Posted May 1, 2012. Accessed June 17, 2013.

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