Whether your multitasking addiction is triggered by an overwhelming to-do list or just constant distractions, author AJ Jacobs explains the great lengths he went to in order to minimise unproductive multitasking by making it difficult to switch focus.
We've debunked the myth of multitasking before, and discussed how learning to single task can save you from this pit of distraction. AJ Jacobs takes this idea even further, experimenting with true unitasking — using methods from turning off his internet to tying himself to his chair to taking meditation classes. While his methods are extreme, impractical and sometimes downright silly, it does reveal a fairly useful idea: if you make your distractions unattractive, you're a lot less likely to indulge in them.
I've got to do something about my desk. This is where most of my crimes against focus occur. There are so many temptations. So many needs to fulfil. Snacks, cups of water, caffeine, curiosity about what Julie's doing. I pop up from my desk once every five minutes.
I decide to engage in some light bondage. . .I've tied myself to the chair in front of my computer with a long extension cord. It feels safe, like a seat belt.
Five minutes ago, I thought of adjusting the lamp, since the bulb was spotlighting my face as if I was about to sing a solo. But then I'd have to unknot the cord and get up. I stay in the chair and return to my computer. It's working!
Jacobs mentions that while ridiculous sounding, this method actually helped him plough through two hours of work. Surrounding temptations became more annoying than actually doing the work; because he was tied down, he was able to focus on just one thing. The excerpt from his book over at The Guardian highlights more than a few of his extreme methods, but if you're truly addicted to task juggling and constant distraction, you may find inspiration in his experiment to try your own. And even if your addiction is not nearly as strong, it's quite humorous and thought-provoking, and definitely worth the read. Hit the link for the full excerpt.