Working smart: Rein in the multitasking

Eileen Chadnick

By Tim Lawlor

Associate publisher, Ottawa Construction News

Here’s some more great advice from our friend Eileen Chadnick at Big Cheese Coaching.

Flying in the face of old notions, we’re now learning that multitasking is, in fact, not the shiny attribute it’s been touted to be all these years. While we do need skills to handle diverse demands in work and life, too much multitasking costs us precious energy, productivity, and even critical-thinking capacity.

How about you? Are you over-expressing that juggler tendency? Do you build in enough focus time? Are your thoughts fuzzy at times? Are you depleted at the end of the day?

Flow: The sweetness of focus time

Our brains actually love to focus, and one of the rewards of focus can be an experience of flow. This is when you are in a zone where you lose yourself in an activity, and everything feels effortless and right. You feel completely on, and it is easy to lose your sense of time. Not only does this flow feel good in the moment, but it also provides a longer-lasting sense of gratification.

Take a timeout from your love affair with multitasking. Learn to tame the juggler in you and create more opportunities for focus time. Notice what happens to your productivity, energy, and overall sense of well-being.

Make it work for you

Start small.

Don’t expect to tame the multitasking habit overnight. Start small, and set aside short periods of time—even as little as twenty minutes—every day for a week for focused activity. Commit to putting your attention on one thing at a time—perhaps working on a particular project or completing a portion of it before moving on to another.


Support your intention with the right environment.

Turn off your phone, close your door, clear your desk—do anything that will give you the space and time to focus.

Schedule it.

Ensure you have focus time for important thinking activities. If you have a report to write or a plan to develop, block off time without other competing priorities and see how much more productive you will be. beware of distractions that will impede your focus time.

Coach others to do the same.

If you are a leader, try to encourage others to set apart times to focus on a particular task. It sounds simple, but in our frenzied world of continuous rushing, focus time seems to be lost in the shuffle. You might notice a marked improvement in your own productivity as well as in that of your team.

The pay-off

Focus time will give you more energy and sharper thinking and will result in more productivity for your efforts.

  • You will become more energy efficient with your time.
  • You will experience more clarity in your thinking.
  • You will enjoy a longer-lasting feeling of engagement that often results from flow and focus activities.
  • You will experience more productivity and satisfaction in your day.

Excerpted from Ease: Strategies to Manage Overwhelm in Times of “Crazy Busy” by Eileen Chadnick. Reprinted with permission of author. Copyright 2013 by Eileen Chadnick. All rights reserved. For the rest of the story please go to

            Tim Lawlor is the Ottawa Construction News associate publisher. He can be reached by email at or by phoning (613) 224-3460 ext 111.


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