Compartmentalize Your Day and Achieve More Focus

Out of Focus

Multitasking is one of the great buzzwords of our day. You should be working on more things at once, because then (so the reasoning goes) you will get more things done. As I mentioned in an earlier post about single-tasking, I acknowledge how important multitasking sometimes is. I’ll also mention that for some people, multitasking isn’t something they consciously do—their ground state of being has them involved in at least two things at once. But for those of us who aren’t born multitaskers, forcing ourselves to multitask can be detrimental to our work and our goals.

If you have many projects to manage, instead of multitasking to try to accomplish everything you have to do all in one go, try compartmentalizing your day into stretches of time in which you do similar tasks. Do all your emailing in one stretch of time, all your phone calls in another, and so on. Compartmentalizing like this can give you several advantages.

Multiple Projects, Singular Focus

If you’re managing multiple projects, it may be difficult for you to let most of them sit on hold while you work on just one of them. If instead you divide your work by type of task instead of by project, you can make progress on each project each day without succumbing to multitasking. For each phone call you make, you should only work on that one conversation and nothing else; once you’ve completed the phone-call portion of your day, however, you’ve worked on several projects.

While you’re calling people, your mind is focused solely on communicating effectively with whoever is on the other end of the line. This communications focus will help you complete each phone call well. After you’re done with communications, you can move onto creativity and do a portion of brainstorming for each project on your plate right now. Once you get the creative juices flowing, you’ll be able to roll that creativity from one brainstorm to another without interrupting it for communication efforts. You make creative progress on each project while still only focusing on one at a time.

Collaborative Compartmentalization

When you want to compartmentalize your day, it may take some extra planning if you do a lot of collaboration. But the same principles can still apply—given how difficult it can be to find time to work together on things, you actually probably already instigated some way of bundling your collaborative efforts together. Instead of finding time to talk about one project you’re collaborating on with Jim, you find time to collaborate with Jim on each piece of the four projects you’re sharing.

Admittedly, compartmentalization may not work for all collaborations (or all individuals, for that matter). Making sure your methods work for you is more important than freeing yourself from the multitasking mindset. So give a compartmentalized day a few trials runs and see if it works for you.

Image by wiangya via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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