Question: Time management question on multi-tasking

I'd like to hear from professionals and productivity experts on how to better manage time in a business context. How does multi-tasking actually harm productivity?

Expert Insight

I am Joseph Flahiff, Founder of Whitewater Projects, Author of Being Agile in a Waterfall World:  a practical guide for complex organizations.  I have been quoted in and written for SearchCIO, and TechRepublic. I also blog for As a consultant my clients include: Tableau Software, Expedia, Wirestone Media Marketing, and the Washington State Office of the CIO and The Washington State Department of Licensing.

Here are some thoughts happy to expand on these over the phone if you would like:

>Very simply...don't you cannot manage time. We all have the same amount. you need to ruthlessly remove whatever doesn't add value to either you or important others (family, business clients, etc.)

>Focus: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi talks about the idea of FLOW. It is that state you get into when  you are completely focused on what you are doing, time goes away, you get absorbed in the activity. We all have that, something, that gets us into flow. for me it is spreadsheets, Ok I am a nerd. When we get into flow we are hyper productive. Our mental processing seems to double and we think two steps ahead.  If you are trying to multitask,  you NEVER enter flow.  Multitasking does the opposite. According to Dr. John Medina of the University of Washington, when you multitask it takes you twice as long to complete the same task and errors go up by 50%, errors which you then must also go back and correct.  Multitasking is Anti-FLOW.

> My best days are when I take a half hour the night before and dump everything out of my brain, order the items by A = "what must get done or the earth will stop spinning", B="Really need to get this done ASAP" C = "Everything else".  It sounds silly but when I do this and I FOCUS (see above) then I really get things done. Those are my best days.

Thanks for your time.