Multi-Tasking vs. Multi-Focusing—What is the Difference?

Oct 21

Multi-Tasking vs. Multi-Focusing—What is the Difference?

Last week I posted about Tabless Thursday – working on one thing at a time with only one tab open on your computer.

I’m still working with four tabs open right now, but I’m focusing on one thing – writing this post and all four tabs are related to me writing this post. I also have my pomodoro timer set on my phone and I’m ignoring all notifications I hear. It’s more difficult to ignore my husband when he comes into the office and wants to talk, but if I can tell it’s not just a quick question and answer I turn of the timer and pay attention to him.

I do this because both activities – writing a blog post and having a conversation – are both thinking activities. I can’t SAY words and WRITE different words at the same time. I can only have one conversation at once. This is not multi-tasking, this is multi-focusing.

Multi-focusing is trying to focus on similar tasks at the same time – such as two thinking tasks or two physical tasks.

It’s difficult not to try to multi-focus. My brain loves to jump from one thing to another in just this way.  I’ve had to consciously reel this in because I know I don’t do my best work if I’m trying to multi-focus.

Multi-tasking is different. This is doing two separate types of tasks at the same time. I love to listen to music while cleaning the house, or watching a movie or TV show while folding laundry or doing dishes. I listen to podcasts too, but then I tend to want to take notes. Taking notes requires more active listening.

Do you try to multi-focus? Have you been able to consciously decide to focus on just one task or project? Share in the comments or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.



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