Jack Of All Trades, Master Of None?


How many times have you wished for one of these?

dd thumb   Jack Of All Trades, Master Of None?

Breast pump?! hahaha :D :D


I used to be a big fan of multitasking!

‘I can multitask like the best of ‘em’, I would grin from ear to ear.

My multitasking skills were called upon heavily at my old job. I had a span of about 5-10 minutes before I was pulled into a new task. This went on for the entire day, every day. I started to realize that this was not an efficient way to work.

Those same work habits carried over into my new business and before I knew it, I was multitasking in a crazy environment just like my old one. Only now I was bringing it onto myself. I wondered if maybe I secretly thrived upon this style of work.

Zen Habits wrote a great article on ‘How NOT To Multitask: Work Simpler and Saner‘. I am so happy I came across this article when I did.

Here are a few key points from the article that I will expand upon:

First of all, multitasking is inefficient, crazy, and more complicated!

How NOT to multitask:

1) Plan your day in blocks

I like the 40:20 idea: 40 min work blocks, with 20 min. re-grouping or miscellaneous tasks blocks. The 20 minutes of each hour is allotted for things that pop up unexpectedly and for future planning, this does not mean 20 minutes of each hour is spent on Facebook or Digg. ;)

2) First thing in the morning, work on your most important task of the day

You know the saying…GIT ER DONE!

3) Have only one physical and one virtual inbox

I currently have 5 email accounts and I will be re-directing every email account into one inbox. Some of them already are, but some of them are not.

4) Stop and Breathe

If you feel the urge to check your email, Tweet, IM, Facebook or do another task while working on something, stop yourself and take a few deeps breaths, re-directing your focus to the task at hand. Repeat to yourself what your goal is for the hour.

I am notoriously bad for walking to my computer to do a specified task and then get distracted and do something totally different. Before I know it I am replying to emails and I have completely forgotten what I came into the room for! Am I an 85 yr old trapped in a 20 something’s body or am I just taking on too many tasks at once? I’d like to think the latter. ;)

[For the rest of the tips, see here.]

multitask thumb   Jack Of All Trades, Master Of None?


What I am starting to realize is that I don’t have to do everything at the same time.

Things. Can. Wait.

My mind is not at peace when I am focusing simultaneously on 10 different tasks.

While I do not think that multi-tasking is inherently bad (it obviously can come in quite handy at times!!!), I do think it can be harmful if taken to the extreme.

My Action Plan:

I planned out today’s task in blocks in my Gmail calendar:

54 thumb   Jack Of All Trades, Master Of None?While I do not consider my workout the most important part of my day, history tells me that if I do not do it first thing, it often gets skipped!

I start my workday with my most important task, which is baking my orders. Without this, no orders can be shipped out.

I normally would not have scheduled 2 interviews in the middle of a long baking day and so far apart. In retrospect, I should have booked the interviews back to back, first thing in the morning so I would have the day clear for baking. On the other hand, it may provide a needed break in my day so it may just work.

With my afternoon interview, this doesn’t leave me much time to pack and ship out my orders before end of day. 3-4pm will be a crazy hour today trying to get it all done.

Hubby gets home + dinner + clean-up. Emails and packing for our weekend trip.

We always end our day, no matter how busy, with some down time together. Friday night will be a movie night!

My Goals for Day 1:

  • Focus on the task at hand, the one task at hand during that hour, whenever possible
  • Stop mindlessly going onto the computer when I am supposed to be doing something else
  • Schedule breaks! You can see a couple places in the calendar where I have 15 mins. with nothing (before each interview). This will give me a bit of downtime before switching to the next task.
  • Check off tasks as I go to feel accomplished

Will I be more productive and accomplish more than when I multitask? We shall see. :)


Are you a crazy multitasker like me? Do you do a million things at once or are you good at focusing on the task at hand?

Angela Signature thumb7   Jack Of All Trades, Master Of None?

Multitasking is the art of distracting yourself from two things you’d rather not be doing by doing them simultaneously. ~Unknown

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{ 84 comments… read them below or add one }

Diana January 8, 2010

Great post!
I get distracted by the computer as well!
2 interviews today! Good for you!


Jessica @ How Sweet It Is January 8, 2010

If I don’t my workout in first thing, I also tend to skip it. It also just gives me energy and makes me feel better overall about myself. I love planning out my day – it makes me so much more productive, seems you feel the same! :)


Jessica @ How Sweet It Is January 8, 2010

And good luck on your interviews girl!!! :)


The Hot and Fit January 8, 2010

I am certainly a multitasker and love to keep things organized. I am addicted to planners too. I have to write, highlight, stick post notes…anything goes!

I can do a few things at once but I prefer to focus on one….


jodie January 8, 2010

I multitask alot. I have to write a TO DO LIST at the end of every week for the next week. I have noticed at times if I don’t I get distracted, things pile up and talk about feeling overwhelmed. It is a great feeling to cross things off the list, I feel so accomplished when i do this.

Great article, congrats on the 2 interviews.


rungirlrunn January 8, 2010

You are SO organized, I love it. Filled in calendars make me happy :) I’m definitely definitely a multitasker to the core


Lily @ Lily's Health Pad January 8, 2010

I’m such a multitasker…and I agree, it is not efficient! Writing blog posts takes way too long because I get caught up in twitter or google reader when I’m supposed to be working!

This post definitely came at the right time for me. Just last night I was getting overwhelmed with all of the tasks I need to complete on a daily basis. I need to work on reminding myself to focus on one thing at once.


Whitney @ Lettuce Love January 8, 2010

I love your organization! Good luck with the interviews :)


Lindsay January 8, 2010

Great tips! Multitasking really may not be the big time saver it is touted as. Focus on the task at hand!


Morgan @ Life After Bagels January 8, 2010

This is such good advice . . . I CONSTANTLY put more than I can do into each day (at home and at work) and then feel upset when I don’t get anything done because of all the other unexpecting things that pop up. I really like the 40/20 rule because especially at work I’m sure I get called upon for 20 minutes of my time every hour.

Thanks Angela . . . let us know how your schedule goes today.


Rachel January 8, 2010

I’ve definitely been known to multitask! In fact, I use multitasking as a way to procrastinate on work that actually needs to get done. It’s hilarious that even through my multitasking, I become unproductive. I’ve gotten better, though, and use google calendar to plan my days out as well! It’s such a great tool.


Kristen @ Change of Pace January 8, 2010

What a good post. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed and then it’s the little things that start to push me over the edge. I love #2. I never thought of getting the most important thing done first.


AGS January 8, 2010

A terrific post. The only way I keep my sanity, is to make sure I gte 1-2 top priorities done each day. All the little things usually take care of themselves. . .


Jenny January 8, 2010

I have definitely found myself falling into the multitask trap lately. These are great tips! I’ve noticed that when I put conscious effort towards calming down and not being overwhelmed, I naturally fall into a “block format” of working. I love this method.

Good luck with your day!


Leah @ L4L January 8, 2010

I am a major multi-tasker. But I do see how it could be inefficient. I’m really ok as long as I make sure to write down what all needs to get done so if I get distracted, I have something to refer back to. At my job, I am basically doing grunt work for 5 different “bosses” so I get pulled in a million directions and have to prioritize things in a split second. I’m pretty good at it. But not perfect.


Lauren @ Eater not a runner January 8, 2010

I get overwhelmed when I have too many things going on at once. A list or a schedule always helps though! And good luck on the interviews ;-)


Danielle (Coffee Run) January 8, 2010

I can multitask a certain number of things before it gets too stressful :?
One thing that always gets in the way is the computer! (like you said)


Alisha January 8, 2010

I am the Queen of multitasking, and I always saw that as a good thing, a good quality to have. When your a student, multitasking is a must, you have to. With 5-6 classes, papers and tests, etc., multitasking gets you through the day. But unfortunately, what I just realized in September, it can be pretty unhealthy if you let it get out of hand, which I did, and burned myself out. I had to withdraw from school or else I was going make myself sick.
Now, I prioritize, I take care of things based on the level of importance or necessity and what gets done, gets done.

Oh yeah, on a side note, I’m from the Miramichi, just outside your hometown (I currently live in Moncton, my hubby goes to ABU), and did you know that the Opera House burned down to the ground!!! There is nothing left. I’m not sure if you ever got to go there when you were a teenager, but I did, and just thought I’d fill you in on a little Maritime news, hahah.

Keep up the hard work :)


Mary (Foot Fit & Fun) January 8, 2010

You have a busy day ! Lots of work with your baking orders. I love the picture of the multi-tasking woman.


katherine January 8, 2010

I multitask like a crazy person and I definitely fall victim to getting distracted and forgetting what I set out to do. The Huz was just complaining that I can’t just sit and watch a movie or TV with him anymore. I always have my computer on my lap and am writing or reading at the same time. I think it’s time to refocus a bit, like you, and make each minute COUNT!


Heather @ Health, Happiness, and Hope January 8, 2010

In some situations multi-tasking CAN be a good thing, but when it gets out of hand, you end up losing sight of what’s important and sacrificing your best effort. It’s so important to learn to multi-task in a POSITIVE way, and also have the ability to stop when need be. :)



Britt January 8, 2010

There is a program called Thunderbird that allows you to compile all your email addresses together in one inbox. It still keeps your mail separate in its individual accounts, but it’s all there in one place for ya! Good luck with the de-multi-tasking :)


alex January 8, 2010

totally needed this today- i have so much on my plate!!!! i have ADD and multitasking because I am always jumping from one thing to another. Keeps my mind engaged, but I don’t know that it is the most productive thing!


Jenny January 8, 2010

I am a crazy multi-tasker, much like yourself, but also full of anxiety. Recently, I’ve found that having more than 1 email account (I have three) is a little cumbersome. In the future, I’ll definitley need to consolidate these just like you mentioned. Good luck with everything!


Anne Marie@New Weigh of Life January 8, 2010

I’m such a multi-tasker! It’s crazy!


Stina @ Girl Can January 8, 2010

I am definitely a multi-tasker, but not nearly as bad as I used to be. I’ve started making to do lists at work and trying tackle the items one at a time. I realized multi-tasking wasn’t working so well when I started to make a few (minor) mistakes.

I’m definitely going to check out the article you linked. The 40:20 method sounds like a brilliant way to work!


Natasha January 8, 2010

I’m a multi-tasker too, only for some reason things are taking longer than normal just now. If I set times, I always run over-time, then I don’t know what to do. I prefer the morning workout too… now if only I could get the fiance out of the apartment earlier so he doesn’t see me making an idiot of myself ;-)


Carbzilla January 8, 2010

Awesome post!

You should watch (500) Days of Summer. Sooooo cute. It’s not a chick flick – if your hubby’s willing to widdle his middle, he can watch this.

Happy Friday!


amy January 8, 2010

I have been seriously lacking motivation the past couple days. This post really helped. I’ve already got half my chores done. Thanks Angela


Christina January 8, 2010

I love multitasking. I definitely do it a lot at work but at home not so much. Right now I have enough time to things one at a time :)


Laura Georgina January 8, 2010

Thank you for digging up some research on this! When I try to multi-task with everything I do, nothing gets done, much less done efficiently. I think it helps to list the kinds of things you can multitask on efficiently, and most of the time I find that the important things need to be done in a focused way.


Kimberly Lee January 8, 2010

I am a serial multi-tasker. I think you’ve made some great suggestions for ways that I can realign my focus and accomplish more in each day.


Ameena January 8, 2010

I am the worst multi-tasker. I can never do just one thing at once and I really need to fix that!!


Alicia January 8, 2010

I love that you have time set for checking email! I *so* need to do that because I tend to check in all day, especially when I have outlook open and it :pings: whenever I get one.


Beth @ DiningAndDishing January 8, 2010

I like to really focus on one thing at a time. I find it helps me concentrate, do a good job and finish in a time efficient way. Then I move on to the next and the next… Seems to work best for me but everyone is different!


Heather @ The Joyful Kitchen January 8, 2010

a little of both, but at work it’s multitasking to the max! makes me feel like a crazy person too…i think i’ll start planning in the 40:20 blocks like you suggested :)


skinnyrunner January 8, 2010

dang girl, you are busy! but i like your calendar how it is all blocked out in times. and good tips too!


Julie @savvyeats January 8, 2010

I’m going to have to try this. I consider myself to be pretty good at multitasking, but I know I could be more efficient if I did one thing at a time!


Ricki January 8, 2010

I’m totally a crazy multi-tasker like you! I loved your comment about going to the computer to do one thing and then realizing you’ve done something entirely different (as in this case, I decided to read “just a few” blogs. . . ) ;) One question: I don’t see a block for “write (or post) blog entry” in your day–so do you just fit that in, or do you pre-schedule posts? Doing a blog entry would take a huge chunk out of my schedule!


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 8, 2010

I typically write my post at night. This post was written Thurs night for example. However for Saturday’s post, I will write it while in the car on our long 3 hour road trip (Eric has an internet stick).


Allison (Eat Clean Live Green) January 8, 2010

I love using my Gmail calendar to schedule my day out like that!

I still consider it multi-tasking though – over one day, you’ve accomplished many tasks! ;-)


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