Recently, I discovered something about myself. One way to actually do something worth throughout the course of a day, is break down my tasks into very small units of work. Then, start working on one unit of work at a time.
During that, I don’t think or act on anything else. I turn off IM, phone, close the browser and stop letting others interrupt me. This way, I can finish it quickly and get on to the next unit of work.
If you find it difficult to stop others from interrupting you, using traditional techniques like telling them politely or not being so polite… you may try a different approach. 🙂
Apart from being more productive, I get many more chances to think if I want a break in between my tasks. This way, I burn less brain cells than I did when I thought I was multitasking.
Many claim they can multi task. I don’t believe we can multi task without loosing time or quality. I say, if you are a programmer, don’t do that. How can multitasking make you less productive? Studies suggest that changing between tasks makes you lose time. It could also make you stupider by not allowing you to learn during your work, the same way you could if you were focusing in one task.
Try it. It takes a while to get used to it, but you will never go back once you realize the benefits.