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Stop Multitasking and Practice Kotsu-Kotsu

Do you ever find yourself answering texts or emails during Zoom meetings? If you do, you’re not the only one.

Multitasking seems like a great way to get more done in less time. But it’s actually undermining your productivity and causing more stress if you do it all the time.

Why? Because humans are just not wired to multitask. 

According to psychology studies at the University of Utah, 98% of people can’t multitask effectively. 

Many cultures are ahead of the game on this. While Americans are all about multitasking, the Japanese actually have a word for doing just the opposite. Focusing on one thing at a time is called “kotsu-kotsu.” 

Are you ready to give up on multitasking and try it out? You should be.

Listen, we all know deep down that multitasking doesn’t really work. Look at texting and driving — it’s a dangerous combination.

Well, so is texting and Zooming. Just in a different way. 

When you’re not devoting your full attention to the task at hand, you’re undermining your ability to bring all your skills to the table. You’re also making it hard for yourself to find joy in your projects.

The science backs me up: It’s time to ditch multitasking. So how can you embrace kotsu-kotsu?

1. Create task-specific time blocks.

Kotsu-kotsu calls for simplifying your routine and not taking on multiple tasks at once. It also means fully focusing on what you’re doing in the present moment.

Doing one thing at a time is the first step to being completely present and prepared to find joy in your work, be more productive, and reduce your stress. 

What does this look like?

Here’s an example: make lunch for eating only. Don’t also catch up on emails! Or if you take a morning walk, enjoy that walk — never schedule a work call for that time or listen to a podcast. 

I know it’s tempting but I’m pushing you to try it. 

Making room for task-specific blocks of time is the first step to incorporating the kotsu-kotsu principle into your routine.

2. Change your mindset.

Taking that phone-free morning walk sounds great, but if you’re preoccupied with what you need to do when you get back to your home office, you’re not practicing kotsu-kotsu.

Be mindful about how you approach each individual task. Are you thinking about all the other things you need to do? Or are you completely devoted to what you’re currently doing?

Being mindful will look like different things for different people. Making lists is one key tool that can help you get into the right mindset.

Figuring out what kinds of lists will serve you best and then staying accountable to those list-making routines will help you declutter your brain and stay focused on the present. 

This is something I talk about in my LinkedIn Learning course, “The Power of Lists to Get Stuff Done.” You can check that out here. 

3. Elevate your space. 

It’s really hard to be present and have a good mindset if you’re working in a messy environment. Having a clean, organized, intentionally-designed home office space is key to making kotsu-kotsu part of your routine.

You also need to have the right tools and tech. A raised computer to minimize neck strain and noise-canceling headphones are two simple ways to upgrade your setup.

I actually have a course on the tools you need to give your work-from-home office a productivity makeover. You can check that out here.

I hope these tips help you think about using kotsu-kotsu in your daily routine. Do you have tips for ditching multitasking? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Track Your Time Challenge

waiting-410328_640Are you wasting precious minutes of your day without even realizing it? Many complain there aren’t enough hours in a day to get things done but it turns out you could be the problem. Gasp! I know!

The issue may not be the amount of time you have but how you’re utilizing it. Staying focused is really important in order to have a productive day.

Distractions are what keep us from reaching our daily goals. Hey- we’re in a society of instant gratification. Just today I had a few spare seconds and I was instantly checking Twitter mindlessly without really even noticing.

I want to challenge you this week to track down where all your spare minutes go.  Here’s a few ideas of how to track that “busy” time:

  • Moment is an app that will track how much you use your iPhone or iPad throughout the day. You can set daily limits and receive notifications once you go over the allotted time.
  • iDoneThis is another great tool to keep track of your day. The app will email you at the end of the day to ask “What did you get done today?”  Stop, reflect, and write about your day just by hitting “reply.” This also works well if you are managing a group.  The next morning, you’ll receive an overview that shows everyone’s accomplishments from yesterday to kick off your day.
  • Rescue Time A web-based service that tracks how much time you spend on tasks. You can also set limits on how long you check emails or update Facebook.
  • Daily Journal –  Write down every single thing you do for an entire day.  This is similar to a food journal where you write out every meal, snack and drink you consume. With a time tracking journal you write out where all your minutes go.  You could also do this in an Excel sheet or in Evernote. Be honest!  This is not a judging contest – it’s a way to get to know your habits better so you can improve your focus.
  • Toggl I just learned about this one at a conference where I was a guest speaker.  It’s a digital way to track all your time.  It makes it easy to capture everything on the go so you don’t forget.

Now that you know what to do – go track those minutes.  I want to hear where you are wasting most of your time – it may surprise you!  Please leave a comment below, a Facebook message or tweet me @Listproducer.  Good luck!

Say Goodbye to Distractions and Stay on Task!

Puppy Personal Ads

(Photo credit: Out.of.Focus)

Apps, texts, cute puppy photos, prank YouTube videos, Facebook feeds, and delicious foods on Pinterest are just some of the distractions that I am faced with on the daily. I mean how can you focus at work when your friend just sent you the funniest Buzzfeed link?!

It’s hard to “turn off” from all this distracting technology to accomplish a task – so, for today’s “Fab Find” I found some awesome apps to help block out the “noise” of everyday life, and get focused!

Computer Apps 

1. SelfControl
Some days it’s just too hard to be good and not check your favorite Twitter feed.  This app will deny you access to your social media sites for the amount of time you choose. You are still able to access the Internet — just no more “liking” cute dog photos, at least for a little while.

Screen shot 2014-02-13 at 8.53.50 PM

 

 

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5 Reasons to be a Compulsive List Maker

To-do ListWhether you write a to-do list, a grocery list or a list of pros and cons – the act of putting thoughts down on paper will be good for your mind, body and soul. I’m not kidding. Making a list will decrease stress, increase productivity, keep you organized and focused, and give you a sense of accomplishment.

Making a list may seem pointless at first, but investing some time into this simple task offers big returns. My beloved journalism professor Cathy Krein always told us to “keep it simple, stupid,” when critiquing our writing. She meant that in the most loving way and I think that statement can be applied to everything in life – including lists.

I’ll get to more benefits in another blog, but here are the reasons you MUST start making lists now:

1. We are forgetful

It’s true – the average adult attention span is 15-20 minutes, so we are bound to let a few tasks fall through the cracks here and there. But you don’t have to!


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