Are you a multi-tasker?

I read fellow Colorado literary agent Rachelle Gardner’s blog post the other day about the Zero Inbox, and though I could manage to pat myself on a back a bit for usually keeping my inbox down to a manageable level — I only leave messages in it that I have yet to act on, and try to keep those to a minimum — the truth is I see this as part and parcel of one of the problems in multitasking.
At any one time, I have my inbox open on my computer, my google reader streaming in new blog posts to look at, my facebook page feeding me my friends’ status updates, my calendar beeping to tell me about an upcoming event I’ve scheduled, and my instant messenger pinging at me with tells from friends and clients. There’s a lot going on. And offline, I’ve got client manuscripts, partials, and requested fulls on my kindle, begging to be read and commented on.
As Rexroth, who teaches a class in productivity in the workplace, writes “Multitasking is the art avoiding TWO things you don’t want to do, by doing them both at the same time.” He also reminds me, “work stress doesn’t come from lots of things that need doing: it comes from things you’ve started and haven’t had time to finish.”
To that end, I’m taking this morning to write a few blog posts for the week and schedule them in advance — you’ll see this post on Wednesday, for instance, though I’m writing it Monday morning. With that done, I can spend most of the week tackling the growing flurry of queries I’ve received, and reading and getting back to authors on partials or full manuscripts — including my own clients’ work, which gets special attention.
I know I have a hard time getting anything done when I’m thinking about other things that need doing, so I’m hoping to tackle them one at a time and feel better about my progress. How do you handle a pile of work? Are you a multitasker, or a one-thing-at-a-time-until-it’s-done kind of person?

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