One of the biggest complaints about the iPhone (and yet-to-be-released iPad) is the lack of multi-tasking. These devices, of course, can multi-task, but they cannot run two third-party apps at the same time. What people really mean by this is that they can’t be checking their email while listening to Pandora while reading their RSS feed.

Yet the iPhone/iPod touch (and, presumably, the iPad) have thriving in spite of this. Or because of?

I’ve found I am far more productive when I try not to do many things at once. Whether it’s tasks around the home or projects at work or fiddling around on my computer, the focus of doing one thing and finishing it is not only more rewarding, but more efficient too. At times I’ll get a work email, respond to it, start doing something else, and only then remember what I was doing before the email came. Inertia is gone.

In doing some reading, studies have shown people do better when they unitask and multi-taskers are often overconfident about their abilities. Sadly, I derive more satisfaction from feeling busy by trying to multitask rather than actually being productive. The 20 ‘check-on-later’ stories in my RSS reader and the several open tabs indicate I don’t always wrap things up and move on to other things.

For those Mac users, several productivity apps are available to minimize computer distractions.