Productivity Tip: Stop Multitasking!

First of all, I am writing this post to me as much as anybody else. On my best days this is what I practice and I find it extremely helpful. However, I very often get off track and am constantly reeling myself back in.

As much as I talk about productivity, I don’t really think that productivity in and of itself is the end goal. My passion is to help you (and me!) simplify life and be productive with our time so that we can get outside, spend more time with our families, improve our minds through reading and learning, and cultivate healthy friendships. You know that, right? :)

Unless you feel that paying bills, checking and replying to your emails, working on projects, and cleaning your house is fulfilling and it is what you dream of doing with your life, then you need to find a way to get all of those things done in a timely and efficient way.

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Do only one thing.

As women, we pride ourselves on being multitaskers. It does become extremely handy when you have a baby in one arm, a toddler hanging onto your leg, you are calling out instructions to your preschooler, and fixing dinner. Oh, and greeting your husband who is walking in the door. (But I would not know anything about that. Nope, not at all. 😉 )

I have read that it is estimated that people lose as much as 10-15 minutes of focused work when they stop to check email or Facebook for just a few seconds. That may seem absurd, but I have tested myself, and proven that fact. Often I have been in the middle of a household task and thought, oh I’ll just run and see if so-and-so wrote me back real quickly. Let’s say I don’t even get sidetracked on the computer checking a link that someone posted or a number of various other things (which we all know is practically impossible to do). Even if all I do is check my messages, I have lost my concentration. I will often think, “now what was I doing?” By the time I get back into concentrated work, I have no doubt that I have lost quite a few minutes.

Multitasking can hurt us big time in the home.

Email, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs

On my good days, I check my email 3 times a day. I plan those times when I know I have a small chunk of time to respond to emails or take care of any business that it requires. I do not get an enormous amount of email so this works for me right now. 

The same goes for Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. Check them when you know you have the time to actually read them. You don’t need to check Facebook 500 times a day. (I speak to myself and only myself here!)

In his book, Eat That Frog, Tracy recommends that even if you are in a job or are someone that has a constant barrage of emails to deal with, you should schedule frequent times to focus on email, rather than just leaving your inbox open all the time. In other words, even if you have to spend 5-10 minutes every hour, or every other hour dealing with email, if you are focused on that and only that you will still be more productive than if you leave your inbox open and stop what you are doing every time an email pops up.

Internet Tabs

I am really bad about having a bunch of tabs up on my computer. It makes it really hard to sit down and focus on writing a blog post when I have ten things staring at me in my tabs. Just sayin’. I am working on it! The visual clutter is distracting, stressful, and a time-waster.

Distracting, because every time I glance at it, I think of that post and not what I am doing.

Stressful, because I often need to take action. I need to transfer that money in the bank. I need to read that article. I need to put the items needed for that recipe on my grocery list.

Time-waster, because of the above two reasons. :) Every moment I lose track of what I am doing thinking about something else, I lose time. I could have had my post written five minutes ago, if I had not gotten distracted. I could have my bills paid already. I could have that email written. And I could already be sitting reading a book, or chatting with my husband, or laughing with my kids, or calling up a friend to encourage. (By the way, I cleared all my tabs before writing this post. In case you were wondering. :) )


Housework is also something I try to be focused on. Obviously if you have young kids you might will get sidetracked with their needs. That is inevitable. But, at least, eliminate all the other distractions. When I silence my phone, and shut my computer down, I can mop my floors, or do a quick top to bottom cleaning of my house in no time.

Focus! (on one thing)

Confession: I intended to give you three productivity tips today but this got kind of long, so I’ll give you the other two another day. :)

Do you find yourself losing time because you get easily distracted?


  1. Becky Rulapaugh says:

    Well…I agree with you Jojo. But my solution to not checking e-mail or facebook repeatedly throughout the day is my job! I don’t have the opportunity to all day, and when I get home, I have too many things that HAVE TO get done, like feeding my family, giving the baby a bath, doing laundry, grading papers, etc. Anyway, I guess my job does help me be more focused…and helps people not hear from me very often! Haha!

    • Johanna says:

      I think sometimes working moms use their time better, because they feel the time constraints! I’m assuming this is spring break. :)

  2. Touché :-)

  3. I can’t wait to read the tips that are still coming. I have been guilty of all of the above, especially having multiple tabs open while working on the computer. :)

  4. I won’t even tell you how many tabs I have open. But having 10 windows open is way more overwhelming to me than having 10 tabs. 😉 My husband laughs at me about how many tabs I have open at one time. But I’m making progress…I used to have about 10 windows with 10 tabs open at any given time.

    “Do you find yourself losing time because you get easily distracted?” Um, yes. :)

    • I am still working on this! Brian is always telling, clear it out!! But when I really want to focus I have to get rid of them. The visual clutter drives me crazy!

  5. Yes, my distraction level is WAY UP these past few years (since I began spending much more time online)! Everytime I shut down my laptop, though, I end up needing the darn thing (and waste time starting it up again :)).

    • I know! Internet has such a way of distracting me. But what would I do without it? :) It’s all in finding the right balance, I guess! Thanks for stopping by :)


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