Multitasking vs Unitasking


Multitasking is the plague of the 21st century according to author A J Jacobs. He shared his 4 best secrets of UNITASKING.

Mobile Phone Etiquette by IESouthern on GoAnimate

Before we get started we should define what we are talking about. Women are often held up as the supreme multi-taskers. They frequently have to juggle husband, children, work, domestic chores and so much more, while men have just one thing on their minds at a time. That was before the Internet and smartphones. Now everyone multi-tasks, albeit in a different way.


The modern-day definition of multi-tasking however is about fragmenting the mind and fragmenting the day into such small portions that it is hard, if not impossible, to get anything done.

Distractions are a big problem in the workplace – it’s usually meetings and the boss who keeps giving you extra tasks to do and then checking in every 15 minutes to see how you are doing. At home it’s the TV, the mobile phone, the Internet, the family and the call of the kettle for one more cup of tea.
So what’s the solution?


First step: get rid of the distractions around you. Put your personal mobile phone out of sight and unless you are expecting an important call keep it on silent. When you do pick up your phone use it for phone calls only. Turn off the internet unless you need it for your job. Set computer reminders or use an alarm clock to signal when you can move from your seat (for a comfort break or refreshments).

tied to chair

You can also visualize yourself tied to your seat, like Odysseus had himself tied to the mast.

Second step: learn how to park your worries, stop the constant chatter in your head and get on with the one task
you need to concentrate on. It might help to write down your worries and seal them in an envelope and then put them in the drawer with the mobile phone. They will still be there when you have finished your task, but for the time being they are not central.

Walk while you work

Walk while you work

Third step: focus your nervous energy. Often it’s this that makes us get up and walk around and find distractions. Have something to do with your feet – like working a treadmill under your desk.

Working at a desk can be an unhealthy occupation – working your feet while working your brain is not a distraction but keeps the blood flowing to your brain, making you more effective.

mindfulness Step four: become aware of what you are thinking. It’s like learning to learn. You have to understand how you learn and use your strengths to help you develop further. It’s the same at work. Learn what triggers off the chatter in your mind. And notice what makes you most productive and then go after that best environment and best set of circumstances for productivity.

A useful way to improve your meta-cognition is to meditate. If that’s too quiet for you then try yoga where breathing exercises accompanying the positions and stretches help you to a state of mindfulness. Talking out loud and articulating your thoughts can also help you to the state of mindfulness that helps you be more productive.

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