In this day in age, we find ourselves constantly checking different portals of communication to make sure we are fully apprised of all the happenings in our world. Heaven forbid we come in late on an email chain and get deemed a slacker. In fact, as a recruiter, I have become so accustomed to responding to people within the hour that I find myself assuming other people are as crazy as I am about answering email and that they will respond to me momentarily.

But recently I’ve set out on a mission to become more productive. And to do so, I’m adopting the mentality that stuff can wait. Sound counterintuitive? It is, but it works.

a counterintuitive productivity lessonWhen I am engaged in multiple challenging tasks I sometimes lose my focus. In a recent New York Times article titled “Distracted? It’s Time to Hit the Reset Button,” author Eilene Zimmerman acknowledges this tendency and discusses the perceived virtue of multitasking at work. You are reading this here first folks — multitasking does not make you more efficient. In fact, it actually makes you more stressed out and less likely to finish a task.

So, how can you get through that “to- do” list?

For starters, turn off your email alerts, mute your phone, and buckle down. After you finish one task, check it off and take a short 10-minute break and surf the Internet or get a coffee — anything to take a quick break. If you have a task that will take you all day, break that task up into smaller more manageable pieces. Another helpful hint is to set reminders in your calendar for tasks you are aiming to complete during the day so that something would have to be an utter emergency for you to change things around.

Obviously there are times when we need to be checking our email and answering our phones, but for the most part, things can wait. People can wait. You can get more done if you are aware of the time and the tasks you need to complete them in. With the holiday season here I am sure we will all need reminders to stay on task.

If you have checked your email, played a move in Words with Friends, and taken a bathroom break before finishing this blog I highly suggest chaining yourself to your desk.

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