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11 Ways to Avoid Multitasking and Increase Productivity

Updated: Mar 18, 2021

Does this scenario sound familiar to you?

Monday morning. You make a cup of coffee and settle in ready to start work.

You make a cup of coffee and settle in ready to start work.
A Morning Cup of Joe

One minute later you’re looking at social media and checking the notifications on your email and phone.

Before you know it, four hours have flown by and you’ve achieved nothing productive (although you did complete a quiz to find out which Friends character you would be).

If this is all too familiar, then you might benefit from some tips on how to better manage your time - after all it's one of the most valuable currencies to an entrepreneur!


1. Don't Look At Your Phone

Your phone is the ultimate distraction so put it away when it's time for work.
Don't Look At Your Phone

Phones are a blessing and a curse, all wonderfully wrapped into one. Before you get distracted by social media, the news, family, friends and the one-million other things going on in your phone, just put it away. According to Entrepreneur, founder and president of NuttZo Danielle Dietz-LiVolsi said, "Do not check your phone or email when you first wake up," Dietz-LiVolsi said. "Wait at least 60 minutes, so you are not jumping right into a ‘reactive’ state of mind."


2. Eliminate Outside Distractions

Instead of letting in distractions turn off notifications and emails.
Eliminate Distractions

Instead of letting in distractions turn off notifications and emails. There’s definitely a time and place for these, but keep them to that time and place without allowing them to grab your attention. "To successfully unitask, you need to do the same type of thing; eliminate any outside distractions," says Andy Teach, author of From Graduation to Corporation , in an interview with Forbes.


3. List Out Your Priorities

Before you start work, take some time to list our your priorities.
List Out Your Priorities

Before you start work, take some time to list our your priorities while mapping out the time you will spend on each item. You know “measure twice – cut once?” Adding organization to your day helps to weed out multitasking. "It is a myth that multi-tasking speeds our productivity. In fact, it slows productivity down. The outcome of avoiding multi-tasking (when possible) is that the task will be completed more thoroughly with additional focus and attention which adds to overall improved productivity in anything you do," says psychologist Kim Chronister, PsyD in an interview with Bustle over email.


4. Schedule A Time For Distraction

Give yourself time throughout the day to deal with distractions.
Schedule A Time For Distractions

Instead of allowing yourself to check social and email randomly go ahead and set specific times for these activities. According to Time, cluttertasking is a technique when you do certain assignments during specific times of the day. For instance, only checking your email right when you get into the office and right before you leave.


5. Don't Be Afraid To Say No

Saying no is necessary when the quality of work will suffer significantly by taking on more.
Don't Be Afraid To Say No

Sometimes you bite off more than you can chew. This is admirable, but not enviable as it typically leads to less than your best results. Don’t be afraid to say no. It’s ok to sacrifice quantity over quality 99% of the time. According to Forbes, When you're saying no to your colleague, don't give them a list of reasons why. Keep it short, sweet and to the point. They will most likely understand either way.


6. Be Mindful

Distractions happen but be mindful enough to get back on task quick.
Be Mindful of Distractions

Even when you're trying to unitask, it’s hard not for the mind to wonder off to the million things you have going on in your life on any given day. It’s ok for us to be distracted at times because it’s a natural part of our human existence; especially in today’s word of fast flowing information. Being mindful is just systematically redirecting attention back to the task at hand, even when distractions arise.


7. Strengthen Your Focus

Focus is your #1 tool to fight distraction. Work on it daily.
Strengthen Your Focus

As noted, when people multitask a lot quality suffers as focus starts pulling in different directions. Focus will improve drastically by simply switching to unitasking, meaning getting one project done before moving to the next. According to Oprah.com, schedule a small amount of time where you can just deal with a mentally challenging task. Once you complete that, extend the time even further so you can strengthen your focus.


8. Unitask During Your Prime Times

Focus on major tasks when during your peak hours of the day.
Unitask During Your Prime Times

Always try to do your most challenging work during your most productive times. According to Mayo Clinic, if you're a morning person, use that time to tackle your harder projects instead of just answering emails. Figure out when exactly you're most productive at work to help eliminate your mind from wondering on other tasks so you become hyper focused on that project you need to complete. Then leave the less important tasks to be done during your weaker moments during other hours of the day.


9. Be Aware Of Your Habits

Be aware of bad habits and work to change them.
Be Aware of Your Habits


If you really want to eliminate your multitasking habit, track your day. According to LinkedIn, keep a log or journal to help identify patterns of how effective you work and when you get distracted. It can keep you aware of your distractions and when you lose focus so you can fix them for the future.


10. Clean Up Your Work Area

Organizing your work area is an easy way to boost productivity.
Clean Your Work Area

It's easy to get distracted when your work area is a mess. Disorganization breeds procrastination. Cleaning up will give you a fresh perspective and know out one of the million distractions you are sure to face. According to Greatest, find a place for everything and keep your papers in line so you know where everything is. This will allow you to stay focus on your task much easier.