Jack Of All Trades, Master Of None?

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on January 8, 2010

How many times have you wished for one of these?


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.]



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:

54While 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?


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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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

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Janice @ O.S.M.B. January 8, 2010 at 12:29 pm

This post came at just the right time. Keeping up with two blogs have made me infinitely more apt to multitask when on the computer, and unfortunately all my work is done on my computer (meaning it’s increasingly difficult to stay focused when I’m working). I needed a solution as I was getting really stressed about it and I this article is a huge help.



Ali @ Food, Fitness, Fashion January 8, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Ugh, I am a total MULTITASKER! I need to try not going it, it is a very, very hard habit to break. My attention span has been made shorter because of it, I am certain of that.


Carolyn January 8, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Thanks for the tips!! Great ideas.


Mae @ OhhMay January 8, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Ahh I need this advise… Even when I’m with friends I’m checking e-mail, loading photos, doing home work and studying. I like the tip about one e-mail accound, but how do you reccomend redirecting them? Is there a setting to do that?


Amy January 8, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Hey Ang… have you ever blogged what is involved in a ‘kitchen scrubdown’? I know its likely an odd question, but I’m kind of curious what is involved as I assume is for the health regulations involving your business.

I’m just wondering if my version of a kitchen scrub down would meet the health departments regulations! :)


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 8, 2010 at 1:33 pm

It involves a HUGE list of things…!!! It is so detailed too..your water has to be a certain temperature, you have to use the correct ratio of cleaning agents, etc etc. I took a whole course on food safety last winter..it was SO beneficial. If you are interested in that sort of thing I really recommend taking it! I took mine with the city of Halton.


Jil January 8, 2010 at 12:57 pm

I technically “multitask” a lot …otherwise known as procrastination…when I think of how productive I might be if my day wasn’t filled with twitter and facebook and whatnot….oy. haha :)


Steph January 8, 2010 at 1:16 pm

You are so right about multitasking. It’s not always good for you. I’m the most stressed and mentally drained when I try to do too many things at once. Prioritizing and scheduling helps immensely to get things done in a reasonable amount of time!


Bronwyn January 8, 2010 at 1:27 pm

I’m definitely a multitasker. And it is bad. I always feel better when I have a list, and I complete it. One. thing. at. a. time. That way each thing feels completely completed. ;)
I find when I do more than one task at once things just don’t feel as done and finished.
And for studying when you have more than one midterm coming up it can be really hard to stop thinking about everything you have to do….


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 8, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Do you guys think it is in women’s nature to multitask? I see way more women than men doing it! I have read research that says that men are better at doing one thing at a time while women are better at multitasking. Pretty interesting!


Stephanie January 8, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Hi Ang,

Yet another rock star posting! This one will be very helpful for me. I’m in the process of starting my own Virtual Administrative services company from home. You’re my inspiration. I decided that I’m no longer going to settle for a life I don’t want. I want to be my own boss!! I’m doing my research and will be studying to add more skills to my repertoire!! Time management will be a key factor in my success so this one was great!!

Loved your interview btw. You’re such a ray of light and you have so much to be proud of!!



Cassie @ A Very Busy Mind January 8, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Love Zen Habits! I’ve read that article – Leo is brilliant!


Stacy Cina January 8, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Hi!! I am definitely a multitasker – especially when I’m bored with the tasks at hand…and I get distracted easily :) Women are definitely better multitaskers – men “cannot multitask”!

Hey Angela, what kind of commerical kitchen certification did you need to get for your business? Or how does one go about that? Do you have a separate kitchen for business?


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 8, 2010 at 3:52 pm

I had my kitchen inspected by a local Health inspector and I also had zoning by law approved to run the bakery in house.


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 8, 2010 at 3:53 pm

I also applied for a business license and renew it each year which is about $170 annually, but will differ by city.


Stacy January 9, 2010 at 9:56 am

Wow thank you so much. You are amazing – with as busy as you are, you still take the time to answer our questions!


Sarah January 8, 2010 at 2:38 pm

This is so true – multitasking usually isn’t the best use of a person’s time. And I love the quote at the end!


[email protected] January 8, 2010 at 3:13 pm

I am the worst multitasker! One of my New Years Resolutions is to finish all my projects before I start a new one. I know there are times when I just get interrupted but most of the time I am just antsy to start something new and I leave things unfinished. Great post!


Erin January 8, 2010 at 3:14 pm

I am a pro multi-tasker. I don’t even notice that I’m doing it. I don’t know if I would know how to slow down and do one thing at a time!


erica January 8, 2010 at 3:15 pm

SUCH a good post! i really wish i could work out in the morning, before anything…i usually go after work, but i find that when things pop up unexpectantly the workouts get pushed to the side. and i also get so distracted w/the computer…it’s like, i’ll just check this one thing, and next thing you know you’re reading blogs and writing emails for an hour! lol.

hope your interviews went well (i’m sure they did!) and that you have a great night w/the hubby :)


Cheryl January 8, 2010 at 3:56 pm

So very true! Multitasking is my downfall! I love that Zen Habits blog – it’s funny you wrote this because I JUST stumbled across it today for the first time!


Sarah January 8, 2010 at 3:56 pm

This post is so useful! I am a multi-tasker extraordinaire – which means I accomplish almost nothing throughout the day because I am so busy doing everything ;) I’m putting these tips into action! And yes, I totally get distracted by the computer.


Jenna January 8, 2010 at 4:50 pm

what a great post angela! I’m a huge multitasker b/c i’m a huge procrastinator! I love/hate to put things off and then i’m always scrambling to get a million things done last min. You have offered some great tips :)


Katie O. @ Fit to Wed January 8, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Excellent post Ange! I especially like tip number one. I get so distracted during the day at points. When I have something important to do, I’ll tell myself that I have to get to “x” point in the project before I can check my email, etc. As a general rule it works!

btw you are one busy lady! Do you have time to sleep? lol


Casey (@Spicy&Sweet) January 8, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Oh man…I definitely multitask…THANK YOU for the tips!! It’s really helpful :). I think a lot of bloggers multitask!


Good Taste. Healthy Me January 8, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Love this! I’ve always been a multi-tasker but I always felt so much less accomplished at the end of the day when I just had a ton of half-finished projects. Now I like to focus on one thing and get it down. I will still catch myself trying to multi-task but I write a list every morning to help me out!


Angela January 8, 2010 at 5:35 pm

I feel like all I do is multi-task! I really would love to get my life more organized!


Kelly January 8, 2010 at 6:28 pm

I am such a multitasker. It always comes up in my reviews “you are so good at multitasking”. Everytime I try focusing on just one task, my job forces me back into the trap. I get to the end of the week and see big things I got completed but the small tasks always seem to go unfinished.


Katy @ These Beautiful Feet January 8, 2010 at 6:29 pm

I love this, lots of great information!


eatingRD January 8, 2010 at 7:09 pm

that comic cracked me up, that is like me! I try to be a multi-tasker but then tend to get overwhelmed with it all. So I try my hardest to focus on one thing at a time :)


laurie January 8, 2010 at 7:28 pm

I think you would really love the book THE POWER OF LESS. It is a really fast read (it is based on some zen principles). I had to read it for my job (we have book talks)- I am really organzied already, and it helped me to do things more effieciently. My husband, who is really disorganzied, found it extremely helpful.


Jolene January 8, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Wow – do you ever spend a lot of time baking! You are very dedicated and enthusiastic! No wonder your bars are so good!


healthy ashley January 8, 2010 at 8:50 pm

You always have great tips on how to get more organized! I love the 40:20 rule :)


Morgan @ Healthy Happy Place January 8, 2010 at 9:06 pm

love this post. I’m the same way. I juggle 100 things at once and none of them get finished properly. I need to take some of your advice and focus on ONE project at a time.


Alena January 8, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Great post! I have a tendency to skim rapidly through blog posts and just look at pictures and recipes but I slowed down on this one and really found it useful. I will now take the time to read all of your posts more mindfully.

By the way, I read this in the middle of a paper I’m writing on a deadline. Hopefully from now I’ll take cue from your post and now wander off on the internet. Good luck with your busy schedule. I’m going back to work!


Cynthia (It All Changes) January 8, 2010 at 9:34 pm

I’m a big multitasker. But lately I’ve been trying to give myself time increments to do work and then do the some fun things for 15 minutes before the next task. I still get distracted at times but I’m getting better.


angela @ a healthy fit January 8, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Wow! I cannot imagine my world as a meeting planner without multi-tasking. I know thatI always work out in the morning because otherwise I am usually too wiped or have other plans.


Kath January 8, 2010 at 11:12 pm

Love seeing your calendar :) :)


Mandiee January 9, 2010 at 12:28 am

great zen-organization tips! i’m notorious for multi-tasking, too, and i think learning to focus like this will really help. i also love how you write out your whole schedule for the day. it seems like a great idea and it’ll be perfect for finals studying.
i hope you have a lovely day!


Trail January 9, 2010 at 4:13 am

I’m horrible at multi-tasking! Granted, my job requires it, but it often makes my head spin and stumble around with that “I know I’m forgetting something” feeling! I have also definitely been guilty of coming to the computer for one thing and piddling my time away with another. I love the tips and think I may try to incorporate some into my work day. Thanks!


Leah @ Simply fabulous January 9, 2010 at 6:17 am

I giggled at breast pump. Because I am so buying one soon lol.


[email protected] January 9, 2010 at 11:16 pm

I have learned to break things down by the day or hour…it really makes a difference.


Jessica @ The Process of Healing January 12, 2010 at 10:46 pm

This sounds really silly but how do you get your tasks to be different colors? I can only change the color for all of my tasks in one day, I cannot color code each individual task.


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