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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!

Designing Happier, Less Stressful Lives After the Covid-19 Pandemic

BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

A few years ago, I had a wake-up call that put my life on hold — my appendix burst! I was in the hospital for nine days and home from work for six weeks. 

During that time, I realized that there were some things that I didn’t want to put back on my to-do list after I recovered.

That experience made me rethink my priorities. As I mention in my book, Listful Living: A List Making Journey to a Less Stressed You, slowing down is prioritizing on steroids. 

Read more

Tools to Be More Productive Working Remotely

BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

Since I started working for myself as a media strategist, author and speaker, a few years ago, I’ve become an expert at working from home. I really love it actually. 

But I know all about how hard it can be to adjust to remote work when you’re used to an office environment and being around people all day long. 

Many more employees are working remotely now because of coronavirus (COVID-19) — and if you’re one of them, you might have run into new challenges with keeping up your motivation and productivity. 

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Productivity Secrets for a Successful Side Hustle

BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

When you first start a side hustle you tend to be a one-man band. It means you’re doing all the work, but there’s also plenty of upsides to this:

  • no communication issues
  • no meetings
  • no job descriptions

It’s all you! 

As I learned through the years it’s important to resist doing everything yourself. That will quickly lead to burnout or will cause you to abandon ship on your ideas. 

As you’re side hustle gets more successful you might need to bring in some help.. Managing a small business or side project like this can be quite difficult. I would know, for the past eight years I’ve run Listproducer.com which has become part of my business. And for the past five years I’ve had the help of my fabulous editorial assistant Nicole. Until recently, Nicole has lived in the UK while I’ve been in the US. Plus  for most of that time we both had full time jobs! Read more

Being More Productive While You Sleep

PRE-ORDER LISTFUL LIVING: If you’re inclined to buy a copy of my new journal book, Listful Living: A List-Making Journey to a Less Stressed You,” please do it now.

The book will be out on September 15th but pre-orders are so important for authors and it would help me out tremendously.

Pre-orders tell the publisher and the media that this book is going to be a big deal. And I’m offering some great pre-order bonuses that you’ll be eligible to receive. All you have to do is send a copy of your receipt to my assistant at Tabitha@paularizzo.com and when they are unveiled you’ll get them! Thank you!  

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Wouldn’t it be great to make money while you sleep? 

It’s a worthwhile goal, but it can take years to achieve. 

In the meantime, you can at least send emails while you sleep. I do it all the time, using a gmail extension called Boomerang.

Boomerang allows you to write an email and schedule it for a later date. Followup.cc also has similar features and reminders so you don’t get lost in your inbox. And now Gmail even has the option.  Read more