Multitasking is defined as “performing more than one task at the same time…doing multiple things simultaneously.” It seems as if the world actually demands this of us.
A Stanford University researcher found that chronic multitaskers struggle when they try to focus on a single task because multitasking changes the way the brain functions and reduces productivity. Talking on the phone while driving a car is one of the most common forms of multitasking and it’s as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. And there are tons more evidence pointing to the fact that doing more than one thing at a time just doesn’t work. But we continue taking on more and more and more.
Let’s Switch Things Up
With all this in mind, thankfully, a lightbulb went off for someone and February 22nd was dubbed Single Tasking Day.
If multitasking, and running yourself ragged, is something you’re struggling with, know you’re not alone and read on for our suggestions on how best to celebrate Single Tasking Day.
First, to clarify, single-tasking means doing one task at a time with as little distraction and interruption as possible. A key element of this is to apply your effort where you’ll reap the most return.
Easier said than done, right?
Where to Start
You’ll likely be surprised that the easiest way to begin single-tasking is to silence your phone. Next to that is closing your email. Now we aren’t suggesting don’t check your email, but closing the inbox allows you to take a proactive approach to managing your time as opposed to reacting to things as they are asked of you.
Next, write everything down. Our memories fail us every day, and more so when you’re a chronic multi-tasker. Take it a step further by writing this to-do list down the night before. Not only does it make you feel more organized for the coming day, but it helps clear your mind for a restful night’s sleep.
Beyond these options, there are more than a few interesting techniques for time management when single-tasking is the focus.
Kissing the Frog (or Eating the Dinosaur). This means you make a list of all the things you need to do in a period of time and rank them by priority. Then you begin attacking the list with the hardest (or least favorite) task on the list working your way to the easiest and most enjoyable tasks.
Pomodoro Technique. This is a time management technique that requires you to break your day into 25 minute chunks separated by 5 minute breaks. The objective is to work for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute brain break. After four of these blocks, you’ll take a 15 to 20-minute break. During these breaks, you should stretch, take a short walk, grab a snack or drink, or go outside.
Remember, as with all things, practice makes perfect. This isn’t going to come easily for most, but keeping at it will help it become a habit.
We’d love to hear what ways you work to minimize distractions and increase efficiency with single-tasking!