Chunking vs Multi-Tasking

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Everyone knows what multi-tasking is; we ADDers claim to be experts at it.

Multi-tasking, as it turns out, is rarely that: doing two things at once. Even more important – it’s rarely as effective as you might think.

For instance, if right now, as I am writing this, someone came into the room to talk to me or called me on the phone, I would have to stop writing in order to listen to what they have to say and respond.

I know you’ve had this kind of experience and you feel as though you can keep typing as you talk. The truth, however, is that by trying to do both at once, you are doing neither as quickly or as effectively than if you did one and then the other. Neither the typing nor the conversation is getting your full attention.

In addition, your attention is being drawn from one to the other. Each time that happens, it takes you a few seconds to get back into the rhythm of what you were doing.

Time chunking is actually a much more effective way of managing your time.

In time chunking you set aside a block of time – it can be 15, 30, or even 60 minutes – your choice. You eliminate any distractions – the phone, your email, etc – and work on one thing and one thing only.

With specific time set aside and distractions gone, you can actually get a lot more done.

And you know what? If you use this same idea for time sucking activities like checking your email and Facebooking, you can still have your guilty pleasures without it taking up the entire day. Set aside 15 minutes a few times a day and use that to connect with Facebook and check your email. Be sure to set a timer. 😉

If you think about when you are most alert and clear headed, you can set aside those times for things that take more brain power.

As you’re looking at your day and thinking about how to chunk your time, remember these tips:

Combine like things into one time chunk. Got several phone calls to make this week? Set aside 15-30 minutes and do them all at once.

Consider setting aside a day for errands. Instead of leaving the house every day to do things like shop, pick up cleaning, and go to appointments, try to chunk all of them into one or two days.

Go one step further and organize your errands so that your driving time is maximized instead of driving back and forth all over town. Start with the one farthest away and work your way back home or arrange them so that you travel in a circle ending up near home. Saves gas too.

Finally, give yourself some time to work this out. Start small by chunking a few things and then work from there.

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Lacy Estelle

Lacy Estelle is the writer of and the Podcast host for An ADD Woman.

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