There’s a hundred things to keep track of in a typical work day, and even more to get done. And trying to accomplish everything at once typically means you’re less productive than you’d like to be. You can’t, for example, listen to and comprehend your coworker’s presentation while writing an email to your boss about a new project you’d like to take on — your ability to do one or both will suffer.
So rather than forcing yourself to multitask, break your schedule into manageable, half-hour chunks, suggests Jim Davies in Quartz. Switching what you’re doing every half hour lets you work enough on one task to make a reasonable dent in it, but also allows you to benefit from shaking things up and thinking about something new.
Davies says he considers the practice “focused work”, rather than multitasking. He’s able to focus on a single thing for 30 minutes, without checking his phone, email, Twitter and so on, allowing him to get more done. You can focus completely on one thing, take a break, and then give your undivided attention to something else.
“Knowing that you only have half an hour to work on something can help with motivation, too,” writes Davies. “No matter how much you dread working on something, it is, after all, only 30 minutes.”
It’s sort of like a less-structured Pomodoro Technique. The important thing to remember, as former Lifehacker editor Alan Henry wrote about Pomodoro, is that you can be flexible with it, as with any other productivity tip.
“If you’re making headway and the timer goes off, it’s OK to pause the timer, finish what you’re doing, and then take a break,” he wrote. “The goal is to help you get into the zone and focus — but it’s also to remind you to come up for air.” Make sure to schedule breaks into your day as well.