How to Single-Task

Everyone talks about how to multi-task… yesterday I had a conversation with David from the Brown County Career Resource center and we discussed single-tasking. That is… turning off your phone, your twitter desktop app, closing your email, turning off alerts – and actually getting some work done.

time.pngWe have too many distractions, nowadays, and it’s impacting the quality of our work.

I’m not a fan of multi-tasking. Co-workers from previous jobs will corroborate the fact that I’m a heads’ down guy. I like to find a corner, concentrate on what I’m doing, and execute. At times they would walk up to me and discuss another project, and I’d look at them like a zombie… barely remembering that they even asked me a question.

My daughter loves this, by the way… this is usually when she asks for permission to do things that I might say no to. 🙂

Anyways… try it! If you’ve got a Blackberry, turn it on silent (not vibrate) and turn it over on the desk so you can’t see the face of it light up when a new message hits. If you’re going to a meeting, leave your phone at your desk and concentrate on the meeting. If you have a boardroom of executives in a meeting, that meeting can be costing your business thousands of dollars. Put down the phone and get the work done!

Give it a try next week – block out 2 to 3 hours straight on your calendar on Monday. Decide the project that you’re going to work on. Close your door, turn off all desktop alerts, and get started. You’ll be amazed at how much work you’ll get accomplished.


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    Very good advice.. I think I may actually try this today on some homework. But I do see where Emma Adams is coming from.. I can barely make it through class without checking the blackberry.

    Anyways, great post..

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    Doug… I was looking for a good technique to single-task and came across a good one… I use the Pomodoro technique ( ) when I need to focus on getting something done and I need to do it over a consistent amount of time. I can't seem to use it during may days filled with meetings, but when I have a lot to do, it's the best technique I've found… Basically, a Pomodoro is a 25 minute work period on an individual task and 5 minutes of break. 4 pomodoros and you take a 30 minute break… I've got a lot done using this technique….

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    Thanks for this great post, it really got me thinking… I've been turning off the notifications on TweetDeck and Digsby to keep the number of distractions down while working.

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