The Mono-tasker

Which Type Are You?

You sneer at multitabs, loathe push notifications, and grab each task with both hands.

Role model:

Franz Kafka. As a 29-year-old lawyer, he wrote his breakthrough short story, "Das Urteil," in a single eight-hour session at his desk. "Only in this way can writing be done, only with such coherence, with such a complete opening out of the body and soul," he said.


Being focused is awesome; succumbing to Sedentary Death Syndrome isn't. Business strategist and speaker Nilofer Merchant has helped us realize that sitting is killing us. So if you deign to take a meeting, make it a walking one. "Mono-tasking is great for focus and execution," Merchant says, "but a monoculture isn't great for coming up with new ideas."

How to be most effective on email:

Limit your read-and-respond sessions to two or three times a day. That way, says Zen Habits blogger Leo Babauta, emailing becomes a mono-task, rather than a constant, low-level distraction.

Killer app combo:

RescueTime lets you temporarily block websites you deem distracting and alerts you if you're spending too much time on certain tasks. AwayFind will halt your daily barrage of email notifications--except for ones that include send­ers and keywords you designate as urgent. More apps for the mono-tasker >>

For more productivity tips, go to, and join our ongoing conversation on Twitter at #worksmarter.

[Illustration by Francesco Muzzi]

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