One Thing at a Time

Are you juggling several activities at this moment?

Checking e-mail while having a conversation, reading, or working on a project?

Beware of multitasking 

as a way to deal with stress and time pressure.

Multitasking decreases productivity.

It divides your attention between multiple things so that each task receives less focus, takes longer to complete, and the work is of lower quality.We usually have to come back and revise or redo that work.

There are “costs of switching” between the tasks,

such as the time and effort of recalling the rules, details, and steps completed so far.

These costs outweigh the potential benefit of coming back to the task with a fresh perspective.

Work interruptions also have switching costs.

Following the interruption we will have to refocus on the work, figure out where we left off, and then pick up that train of thought.

To decrease the costs of switching:

  • limit distractions– turn all screens and sound/vibration alerts off
  • make a to-do list and prioritize tasks so thoughts about them are not interrupting
  • work on one project for 20 – 30 minutes at a time,

              then take a short break to check and address all messages/alerts

              before moving on to the next 20 – 30 minute uninterrupted work period

Take steps to decrease stress by working smarter….

One task at a time.

For effective, practical stress management skills that enhance health and performance, check out the Stress Management & High Performance Clinic programs at

Kathy Somers, R.Kin, BCB


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