Stop the Multi Tasking Madness

Multi-tasking: it’s a crazy-making endeavor. I’ve done my best to develop this time management skill. I can juggle email and phone calls with the best of ‘em. But one day it just went too far.


(Image credit: A. Schaff at

With the printer running and coffee brewing, I ran to the bathroom to brush my teeth before my client arrived. I had a mouth full of toothpaste, brushing away in the usual manner. Then I got that “you’re-about-to-sneeze” feeling. Uh-oh! Horrified at what could happen next, I reached for a tissue. And for a second there, I thought I would have to blow my nose as I brushed my teeth.

I shared this story with an audience once and asked the rhetorical question, “Can anyone here brush their teeth and blow their nose at the same time?” One elderly woman at the back of the room shouted out, “I can! But I have to take my dentures out first.”

(A creative solution to one of the world’s most important endeavors.)

It’s gotten to the point that in an effort to try and do it all, we become more distracted, scattered and stressed. Some studies say it can actually damage our brains, careers and lower IQ!


So I was delighted to discover Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time by Rory Vaden. That’s the ticket! I’m in favor of anything that will give me more time.

Time Management Tips

The core message of the book is this: You multiply your time by giving yourself permission to spend time on things today that create more time tomorrow.

He says, “Work double time, part time, so that later you can have full time free time.”

What? How? Here nine nuggets from Rory’s book:

  1. Any level of skill is amplified by appropriate timing. Am I fishing the right amount of time isn’t the question. Rather, it is am I fishing at the right time?
  2. There’s a big difference between inaction that results from indulgence and inaction that results from intention: one is procrastination and the other is patience.
  3. Defining characteristics of Time Multipliers is their strong focus on results. Success isn’t so much about efficiency or effectiveness, it’s about efficacy, which means “the quality of being successful in producing an intended result.”
  4. Multipliers focus on significance, in addition to urgency and importance.
  5. Urgency: how soon does this matter?
  6. Importance: how much does this matter?
  7. Significance: how long is this going to matter?
  8. Your highest obligation to other people is to be your highest self. If you don’t do that thing, you are going to inhibit those around you from doing theirs. Do the things that are right, not only for now, but for the future.
  9. Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of work and faith and fight and discipline and action.


 I mentioned the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown in an earlier article. In it, Greg writes about the disciplined pursuit of less. Here are three of his nuggets of wisdom:

  1. Create space to think. Schedule yourself a quarterly “off-site” where you can set your goals for the next 90 days, focus on how you’re spending your resources and create strategies to achieve the three most important goals for your life.
  2. Success can become a catalyst for failure. Success can lead to the undisciplined pursuit of more. Instead, we should become more and more discerning and decide criteria for when to say “yes”.
  3. “Busyness” is a bogus badge of honor. It’s a disease that promises: if you can fit it all in, then you can have it all.

Here is an excellent interview by Michael Hyatt with Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.

Now, doesn’t that help? You don’t have to be a multi-tasking maven. There’s a limit to what you can fit into your day. Trying to do it all will fry your brain and sap your soul. Read one or both of these books to put some sanity back into your life. Once you do, I’m betting you’ll never look as silly as I did with toothpaste all over my face!

Q: Has trying to multi-task ever caused you to do something out of the ordinary? Send me a private email and share your story. I’ll keep it confidential. Promise.