My colleague and good friend Christopher Mims is one of the most efficient freelance journalists I know. In his first year officially freelancing he was writing for multiple publications and made a satisfactory annual salary. Amazing.
After I read some of the recent research about how awful multitasking is for productivity, I started a practice I call “mono-tasking.” It’s simple: If I’m working on something and I get to a natural break point or something pops up to distract me, I deliberately ignore it and instead focus on finishing the task at hand. Even if it’s something that could easily be left for later, I’ve come to realize that the time required to later on re-ascertain where I was in the middle of a task, plus the costs of mentally switching from one task to another, are just too great.