Is Multitasking a Blessing or Sabotage? | The BridgeMaker

Is Multitasking a Blessing or Sabotage?

By on Jan 14, 2010


If you can’t ride two horses at once, you shouldn’t be in the circus. –American Proverb

Article written by BridgeMaker contributor Lorraine Cohen. Please visit her at Powerfull Living.


It’s a New Year and you probably have been thinking about what you’d like to create, right? You might have a lot of great ideas for your business and your personal life you want to get going on NOW.

I know I do.

I have so many projects I’m juiced about and I’ve said to a few people that I wish I could clone myself to create five more of me so I could put my energy and attention on each one of my ideas.

And the thing is it’s easy to become distracted. Sometimes we welcome distractions to avoid doing something we don’t want to do or deal with. Having a natural curiosity to learn new things can get in the way of staying focused. Interruptions, too much stimulation, and weariness add to the many ways we get distracted.

One specific distraction is doing too many things at the same time. Perhaps you started doing something specific and you had an interruption and decided to stop what you were doing to handle it and then noticed something else you wanted to attend to which led to something else. And before you knew it, several hours had gone by?

A place I’m guilty of getting distracted is when I’m cleaning my house. I stop and start things in every room! I have to laugh and remember that when I’m done, things will be pulled together and sometimes I have to stop myself from creating even more of a mess.

In my work, I can become distracted by a number of things (like checking my email!) which is why having a system to interrupt potential distractions becomes important so I can attend to one thing at a time.

So, when clients ask me what I do to stay focused and avoid distractions, I use these five questions to keep me on track when I feel the urge to do some multitasking:

  1. Is it urgent?
  2. Does it have to be done NOW?
  3. Is this the best use of my time and energy?
  4. Is this moving me towards or away from what I want (priorities, goals, vision)?
  5. If I say yes, what am I willing to give up?

If you are challenged to stay on track, here are nine tips to manage your distractions:

  1. If you’ve been working hard and feel like playing hooky, it’s OK to take a break from your work. Even short breaks of 15 minutes every 3-4 hours just to do something else can make a big difference is regaining focus.
  2. Schedule some play times to relax and have some fun. Nurturing yourself regularly will help you stay focused. Remember to celebrate your big and small successes.
  3. Are you a morning person or a night person? Plan your daily activities when your energies are most conducive to the tasks at hand. In other words, if you are at your best in the morning, you might schedule important meetings, prospect calls, or write proposals before noon rather than mid-day or late afternoon when your energy is waning.
  4. When your thoughts begin to wander (and you notice it) get up and move around. Activity of some kind will bring you back to the present.
  5. Get clear on your intentions and the results you want. Have you chosen the right goals – ones that excite you to action? If not, you will be more easily distracted.
  6. Your projects might be too big to tackle at once. Break your actions into smaller steps. Feeling overwhelmed can create distractions.
  7. Begin de-cluttering. Schedule time each day to deal with things that have been piling up. Be willing to delegate some tasks to others instead of trying to do it all.
  8. If you do get distracted, suspend your judgments. Beating yourself up and getting down on yourself is unproductive. Recognize your distraction as a sign that something is off in your life. Use that information to help you move forward in ways that create more ease in your life and move you towards what you want.
  9. On additional thing I do each morning is write down 4-6 must-dos in my calendar. I’ve made a promise to myself that I will not close my office until I complete those tasks for each day. It’s a simple system that keeps me in integrity with keeping my agreements. (yes, I do have some late nights sometimes! LOL)

Clearing Your Plate

Are you feeling overwhelmed, stuck or do you find yourself procrastinating? Do you typically load your plate by taking on too much and expect to handle it all? Are your goals realistic or a bit too ambitious?

There are times when tipping over your plate and letting things drop so that you can start over is the best choice.

Consider eliminating all goals for 30 days and slowly add back selected old ones plus new ones. Use this 30 day period to delegate, dump, finish, or streamline areas of your business or personal life:

  • Make a list of everything that is undone or not progressing the way you want. Include things you feel pressured about or anything your feel you should, could, have to, or ought to do. Add all goals, projects, roles, routines, and things you consider both minor and essential to your life.
  • Drop 50% of the items on this list permanently. Yup, you heard me. Creating space to re-evaluate what you really want allows you to make a clear decision about what you choose to add back into your life.
  • Deliberately reduce the emotional or time invested in the remaining 50% so that you have some “you” time and space for self –care, re-energizing, having fun…..
  • Slowly add only the items back that you really want.
  • Clearing your plate of all goals, promises, shoulds, have tos..etc for a brief period creates the room to focus on what you really want rather than what you think you should want or do.

Bottom line: Choosing this strategy can be a great way to realign priorities and assist you in having more ease in your life. Doing a clean sweep can jumpstart enthusiasm and motivation when focused on the things you deeply desire and choose to pursue. This can be a fun process that supports you in working smarter rather than harder.

It’s a New Year! Create a great one on your own terms.

Lorraine Cohen is the CEO and founder of Powerfull Living. Join Lorraine on May 15 and 17 for two FREE calls: Awakening to Love: Revealing Your Courageous Heart in an Insane World. You are invited to register here.

  • Writing things down that you want to do in a day, works best for me. Very often I am in overwhelm mode and as a result nothing gets done or it results in long hours because I am trying to do everything at once.

    When I write things down and work at it one by one, it becomes manageable to I actually finish my tasks.

    Thanks for the article