How to Not Multitask: A Guide to Startup Efficiency

Contrary to popular belief, human beings cannot multitask. Our brains can only focus on one major thing at a time. But we try. Boy, do we try. It used to take me 10-15 minutes to do anything on my computer. Now that I my social presence, checking every few seconds to see if anything had changed – it hadn’t. All I was doing was wasting my time.

What I’ve learned, I’ve turned into this blog post, a guide to startup efficiency.

Close everything not related to the task at hand

Email, the Internet, Twitter and other services – they will all be there when you’re done with what you need to do. There’s no reason to check to see if your inbox suddenly filled up. You’re just dawdling.

Let’s picture for a second that you’re in a funded startup. No matter the cost structure of your startup, your business costs a certain amount per day to operate. People can only function for so long and if you’re multitasking, you may spend a quarter of your day playing on social media instead of doing real work. When you run out of money, a quarter of the capital that went into your startup was spent staring at Facebook. No VC or Angel Investor is going to be happy with that.

Cut it all out and do what you’ve got to. Relaxing is also the key to staying on task, make sure to have a globe stress ball on hand.

Put on headphones

Everybody works better without distractions. After you’ve closed all of your browser tabs and desktop apps that distract you, put on headphones and put your head down. Zone out and get your work done. Not only do the headphones block outside noise, they also provide the work soundtrack of your choice.

For those who get too into music, for those who have a tendency to sing along, don’t let music be another distraction. I recommend ambient music, spa music, classical or instrumental. It provides a great, calming environment to work in while not being distracting.

Put your phone where you can’t see it

I probably get three to five phone-related distractions any time I’m writing a blog post or doing any serious work. Since I started writing this, six texts have come my way. Put your phone somewhere that you can’t see it and don’t check it until you’ve finished the task you were working on, or you need a break.

Communication is a productivity killer unless it’s absolutely necessary. If possible and your job permits, go ahead and turn off your phone. You can always respond to that text message when your done.


Master your own mind. Essentially, cut off your contact with the outside world, get in the zone and knock out the work that you have to do. Don’t work harder; work smarter. Efficiency is key to a well-run and successful startup.

How do you stay on task? What’s your guide to startup efficiency?