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Want to improve productivity? Focus on one task at a time.

According to psychiatrist Dr. Edward Hallowell, director of the Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health, multitasking is a myth. The truth is that the cerebral cortex can only focus on one thing at a time. Hallowell says that what people really do is quickly shift their attention from one task to another. That rapid-fire transition actually reduces the quality of work on any one task, he says, because you're ignoring it for milliseconds at a time.

Yes, you can email, field a phone call and

schedule meetings all at the same time,

but if you think you're being highly

productive, think again.


The way to be more efficient at work is simple: Focus on the task before you. Here are some tips to find your focus:

  • Declutter your workspace. By keeping your work area neat, you'll have few visual distractions to pull you from the task at hand. When you finish a task, put it away.
  • Reduce interruptions. Don't be afraid to close your office door or post a note stating that you are currently on task and unavailable. Let others know when you'll be available or suggest that they send an email to set up a time to talk.
  • Schedule time for email. Instead of lifting your head every time an email comes in, schedule several blocks of time throughout the day to address them thoughtfully.

Source: McMurry © 2012