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Work Smart

The Multitasker

Which type are you?

The Multitasker

[Illustration by Francesco Muzzi]

You wish your phone's browser could handle more than eight windows. Perhaps you're using that phone right now.

Role model:

Leonardo da Vinci. He took his core skill, observation, and applied it to cartography, robotics, and siege weaponry, among other things—all while cranking out some rather decent paintings.


"If you're doing a lot, you have less attention to monitor your own activity, so you're not aware that you're missing some details," says University of Utah psychology professor David Strayer. "Plus, the parts of the brain you use to be creative are being tapped when you switch from phone to email to text." So, really, try to focus on one thing at a time.

How to be most effective on email:

Turn your notifications off. Responding and getting back into the flow can cost you 23 minutes per interruption, says Gloria Mark, informatics professor at the University of California, Irvine.

Killer app combo:

IFTTT is your new best friend. Create automatic actions between apps, like sending an email greeting when you save a new phone contact. Wunderlist lets you create limitless lists of tasks. More apps for the Multitasker >>

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

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A version of this article appeared in the December 2013 / January 2014 issue of Fast Company magazine.

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