If you prefer podcasts, listen to my podcast episode on this same topic here.
Ask a busy person how they accomplish so much and they will probably tell you that one of their secrets is multitasking. After all, why focus all your efforts on one thing, when you can evenly distribute yourself among five? As tempting as it is to take on the mindset that doing multiple things at once is better, research suggests otherwise.
First, let’s discuss what multitasking is and just how its counterpart, focus-tasking, may just be the wiser of the two.
What is Multitasking?
Switch-tasking, interrupted tasking, and multitasking––they are all similar ways to describe the ability of a person to handle more than one task at a time. If you’re a visual person, imagine how your computer has the capability to have multiple programs open and several tabs plugging away on your internet browser.
The biggest illusion of multitasking is that you are actually getting multiple things done at once. But as the term “interrupted tasking” suggests, you can’t actually do more than one thing at a time––because you’re human, not a computer!
Research has found that multitasking can disrupt a person’s short-term memory and focus, inhibit your ability to get into a workflow, and staunch creative thinking and problem-solving skills. When you’re struggling to get anything done, it can lead to mistakes and reduced productivity.
So what’s the alternative?
Known also as single-tasking and monotasking, focus tasking, “is the practice of dedicating oneself to a given task and minimizing potential interruptions until the task is completed or a significant period of time has elapsed.”
While it may sound less productive to focus your efforts on one thing at a time, the benefits of single-tasking are numerous. To start, when you single-task, your productivity improves because you aren’t constantly being interrupted or distracted. As a result, you conserve energy, have improved self-discipline, and a better attention span. This allows for the task to be completed much quicker -- increasing productivity.
Focus Tasking In The Real World
Hearing the benefits of multitasking versus focus-tasking makes it seem like the choice is easy, but it is often a daily intentional mindset that needs to be renewed often. With the constant access to the internet, social media, texting, email and the like, we are under a constant barrage of information that can be difficult to shut out when we have a task we want to accomplish.
How do we set out to focus-task in the everyday world? First, it involves training yourself and allowing yourself time to adjust to a less hurried way of accomplishing work. Start small!
Set limits, like only checking your email or social media a few times a day. Use your time with friends and family to practice time away from your phone. When it comes to working, keep the open tabs to a minimum, and designate blocks of time for each project you need to accomplish.
Even though focus tasking may seem like you’re slowing down your work productivity, the work you turn in will far surpass that of a multitasker.
Why not give it a try? Your boss (and friends) will thank you.
If it’s your time for a dramatic change and rapid advancement in your personal and professional life, then I’d like to work one-on-one with you to break through your barriers and help you reach your highest potential and performance in all you do.