Don't Multitask to Improve Your Productivity


12/20/20232 min read

In a world where multitasking is celebrated and the ability to juggle multiple tasks at once is seen as a sign of productivity, it might seem counterintuitive to suggest that diversifying your efforts is not the key to improving productivity. However, the idea of spreading yourself too thin, constantly shifting your focus, and trying to do it all can actually be detrimental to your overall effectiveness. In this blog post, we'll explore why diversification might not be the productivity panacea it's often thought to be. Instead, we'll offer a more focused approach to help you achieve better results in your work and life.

Diversify: A Buzzword or a Productivity Trap?

The concept of diversification has gained immense popularity in recent years, especially in the business and investment world. Diversifying one's investment portfolio is often seen as a way to minimize risk. But when it comes to productivity, is diversification really the way to go?

1. The Myth of Multitasking

One of the most common misconceptions about productivity is that multitasking is the path to success. Many people believe that by diversifying their efforts and tackling multiple tasks simultaneously, they can accomplish more in less time. However, research suggests otherwise.

Diversifying your focus across multiple tasks can lead to reduced efficiency and increased errors. When you switch between tasks, your brain incurs a "switching cost" – the time and cognitive effort required to refocus on a new task. This constant switching can add up, significantly slowing down your overall progress.

2. The Perils of Shallow Work

Author Cal Newport coined the term "shallow work" to describe tasks that are easy to replicate and often require minimal cognitive effort. These tasks are the opposite of deep work, which demands intense concentration and focus. Diversifying your time by spending too much of it on shallow work can leave you feeling busy but unproductive.

It's crucial to recognize that not all tasks are created equal. Diversifying your efforts across a wide array of shallow tasks can give you the illusion of being productive while accomplishing very little of real value.

3. The Energy Drain of Decision Fatigue

Every decision you make throughout the day, no matter how small, consumes mental energy. When you diversify your efforts across too many projects or tasks, you increase the number of decisions you need to make. This can lead to a phenomenon known as decision fatigue, where your ability to make good decisions deteriorates as the day progresses.

Diversifying your efforts without a clear plan can overwhelm your brain with choices, making it difficult to stay focused and make sound decisions when it matters most.

4. The Importance of Deep Expertise

In a world that celebrates generalists, it's easy to fall into the trap of diversifying your skills and knowledge across a wide range of areas. While having a broad skill set can be valuable in some contexts, true expertise often requires a deep, focused commitment to a specific field or domain.

Diversifying your efforts across too many areas can hinder your ability to develop deep expertise, which is often a prerequisite for making a significant impact in your chosen field.


Diversification may be a buzzword in many aspects of life, but when it comes to improving productivity, it's essential to tread carefully. Multitasking, shallow work, decision fatigue, and a lack of deep expertise can all be pitfalls of excessive diversification. Instead of trying to do it all, consider the power of focus and concentration.

By recognizing the limitations of diversification and implementing the actionable items mentioned in this article, you can set yourself on a path to increased productivity and effectiveness. Remember, it's not about doing more; it's about doing what truly matters in a deliberate and focused manner.

So, the next time you're tempted to diversify your efforts, think twice. Sometimes, doing less can lead to accomplishing more.

Actionable Items:
  1. Instead of multitasking, try single-tasking. Dedicate your focus to one task at a time, complete it, and then move on to the next. You'll likely find that you accomplish more with fewer errors.

  2. Identify your most important, high-impact tasks (your "deep work") and allocate dedicated blocks of time to tackle them without distraction. Reserve shallow work for less critical moments.

  3. Implement routines and structure in your daily life to reduce the number of trivial decisions you need to make. Reserve your mental energy for more critical choices.

  4. Identify a specific area or skill that aligns with your goals and interests. Invest time and effort to develop deep expertise in that area, which can set you apart from the competition.

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