Single-tasking Is the New Multitasking
How to Start Single Tasking
In today’s busy professional world, great focus can be put on “multi-tasking,” or trying to work on more than one task simultaneously. Although this idea may sound beneficial, in reality it frequently diminishes productivity and increases stress.Instead, try focusing on single tasking: working only on a single task at a time, but doing so with attentiveness and focus. You can help yourself single task effectively by removing distractions, closing unnecessary apps and computer programs, and disciplining yourself to focus.
Focusing on a Single Task
Remove distractions from your workspace.Help yourself concentrate by removing prevalent distractions: phones and personal and work computers can provide countless distractions that prevent you from focusing on a single task. Silence your phone and close your personal email while working on a task.
- You can also remove physical distractions around you. If you work in an office, shut the door and hang a sign that reads “Working, please don’t interrupt.”
Concentrate fully on one task.Although you doubtless have multiple tasks to accomplish during the workday, when you’re working on a task, devote yourself fully to it. Avoid the temptation to chat with a co-worker about a different project, respond to a personal email, or watch a YouTube video while working. If you begin to regularly practice focusing on only a single task at a time, you’ll become more and more adept at this practice over time.
- If you find it difficult to focus on a single task, try for a short period of time. Set aside 15 minutes during which you don’t look at your phone or email, and focus solely on your single task.
Dedicate a period of time to each daily task.You’ll be able to single task more effectively if you break your working day up in to periods of time which can each be spent on a single separate task. During each segment of time, focus fully on completing the work you’re doing, and avoid the temptation to multitask.
- For example, if you need to complete a written report by lunchtime, give yourself from 10:00 until 12:00 to do the work.
- During this time, focus only on the report: don’t send un-related emails, make unrelated calls, or start working on a project that you’ve slotted for the afternoon.
Planning Your Day with Single Tasking
Write down a to-do list.You’ll feel less stressed about the amount of work that you need to complete in a day if you write down all of the tasks you need to complete. You’ll be less likely to attempt to work on multiple tasks simultaneously if you’ve written down everything you want to accomplish.
- Try putting the two top priorities for the day first on the list. That way, even if you don’t make it to the 6th, 7th, or 8th items on the list, you’ll still have accomplished the most important tasks.
Accomplish each task in order.Even with a written to-do list, it can be tempting to attempt to complete multiple tasks simultaneously. Resist this impulse. Instead, concentrate on completing the first task on the list; once that’s finished, you can move on to the second. This approach will allow you to work more quickly and effectively on each task, rather than allowing distractions to creep in.
- It’s OK if you need to depart from the order of your daily list sometimes. It’s more important that you don’t start work on a second task until you finish the first one you started.
Give your brain time to relax during the day.Constant pressure and stress isn’t healthy and, over time, will reduce your productivity and your mental health. Take breaks throughout the day, whether you’re working at an office, from home, or in a variety of settings. When you’re working on a mentally demanding task, step away for three to five minutes. Then, when you return, you’ll be able to focus better on the task at hand.
- On your brief breaks, you could have a healthy snack or take a brisk walk around the block.
- Avoid getting pulled back into a different type of work; i.e., don’t start checking your work email with your phone as soon as you step away from your desk.
Single Tasking with Technology
Check your email, Facebook, and other apps less.While social media, email, and phone apps are useful and can be important parts of our day, they can also be distracting. To enhance your single tasking, force yourself to check these websites and apps less.
- Most office workers check their email 30 times an hour; that’s once every two minutes. Not only does this distract you from working on a single task, it’s also unnecessary. Improve your single tasking by checking email only once or twice an hour.
Reduce the number of browser tabs you keep open.If you’re distracted by frequently navigating between multiple browser tabs, you’re less likely to single task effectively. Multiple tabs will increase your likelihood to begin trying to multi-task, whether by replying to a Facebook message, reading an article unrelated to work, or scrolling through a series of distracting Wikipedia pages.
- It’s not uncommon for anyone using a browser during work to have upwards of 20 tabs open. These can provide a great deal of distraction, and will take your focus off of single tasking.
Use as few tools or programs as possible to complete a task.Using fewer programs will decrease distractions, increase focus, and allow you to single task more effectively. If you only need a word processor to write your weekly report, close all other computer programs. When single tasking, aim to find the simplest way to complete your work.
- For example, many workstations feature a second monitor, which isn’t necessary to write a report or enter data in a spreadsheet. Shut down your second monitor, close instant messaging software, and turn off your email while single tasking.
- If you can do any tasks without a computer, you can even turn the computer off.
- Your brain will be better able to focus on a single task and concentrate on completing the work if it’s given adequate time to sleep. Aim to sleep about eight hours every night.
- Frequent aerobic exercise will also help your brain to perform better and focus more successfully. Try to exercise at least three times a week.
Video: How To Increase Productivity | Single-Tasking Vs. Multi-Tasking |
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