Multi-tasking is the enemy

Ever sat in your room (or at work, or in a lesson), aware that you have so much work to do, and yet not managed to actually do anything – even though you’ve had three project documents open all evening? If you find, as I have done, that this is a common occurrence then I may have some useful information for you: multi-tasking is not your friend.

I always have several projects on the go. I’m quite a task-orientated person, so to me a project could be finishing an essay for English, or watching a documentary, or eating a Crunch Corner, or trying to shift some of the crap that is invariably threatening to obscure my desk surface.

Each project is important and deserves my full attention. But each project never does have my full attention – consciously or subconsciously, I am sabotaging my own productivity. Sometimes it is terrible – not only am I being lured by minor distractions such as reading my feeds, checking my email every few minutes, MSN or staring gormlessly at my own pictures; sometimes I actually try to do two or three ‘projects’ at once.

For instance, I am constantly fighting against my room – my room wishes to be untidy, disorderly and some sort of post-modern gallery for my unwashed clothes, whilst as I person I wish for my room to be clean, tidy, and reasonably neat (mainly to impress my girlfriend). This is fine when there isn’t a DiDA deadline looming, my Geography study isn’t 3 or 4 months overdue and I have courageously beaten back my PT to the point where the standard of my maths book is ‘acceptable’, but for the remaining 99.8% of the time the battle spills over into my other work.

Multitasking does not get your projects finished. This site has had a pending redesign for 3 months. I need to do my Business coursework. There is preliminary DiDA work to be done. Why are all of them progressing at a pathetic pace? Because I’m trying to do all of them at once, get distracted, and in turn just give up and read blogs and look at pictures.

So, here is what I suggest:

  • Focus your energies on one particular task, be it waging war against your rebellious property or getting that report finished;
  • Under no circumstances stray to ‘just check your email’, or ‘just put this sock back into its cage’ or ‘just check your MySpace picture comments’;
  • Turn off the damn TV – when it is on you will not be able to concentrate, full stop;
  • Concentrate on your one project for a sustained period, taking short breaks every 30 or 60 minutes.

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