What do you do when you’re answering emails and suddenly the phone rings? Do you answer it and try to speak to the person while you finish your emails? Then the doorbell chimes. Do you go to the door while still on the phone, even though there’s a 98% chance it’s just a package delivery?
An uber common one in these work-from-home days is working on something while “listening” to a meeting “in the background”.
The one I’m most guilty of is actually self-inflicted! I’m working on something and it gets hard, so I pick up my phone to give my brain a break (or so I tell myself). In one of those weird coincidences, I just did that when a text came in from my girlfriend in Texas. They got a dusting of snow and the world is ending! Isn’t that cute (as I say from my Michigan home, staring at the 8 inches of snow we got last night…). But the point is, I texted for a few minutes instead of writing this article. Oh the irony…
Whenever those inevitable distractions come along, we have some decisions to make.
We live in a world where multitasking is commonplace. But is it the most efficient use of our time?
Spoiler alert – no it isn’t.
The Multitasking Myth
A number of states have already made it illegal to talk on your cell phone and drive at the same time. Some states won’t even allow you to drive and eat at the same time! These laws are based on the fact that if your focus is divided, accidents are more likely to happen.
Recent studies have also shown that when people are forced to change gears in the middle of a task, valuable time is lost. The more complex the task, the more time is lost. The lost time is the time that’s usually spent by the frontal lobe of your brain making decisions and establishing priorities.
So, when you multitask, rather than getting a lot more accomplished, you’ll find that the quality of your work diminishes significantly while important tasks actually take longer
I don’t know about you, but I don’t need ANY task to take longer, let alone the important ones!
Single-Tasking: The Alternative
Just for argument’s sake, try spending one day where all you do is focus all your energy on one task at a time. You may be surprised to discover that you’re making significantly more progress than usual as you tackle one job at a time without interruption.
And you know what’s the perfect day to try this? Monday, February 22nd. Why? Because it’s National Single Tasking Day.
Oh, I know what you’re thinking. A day without interruption? “That’s easier said than done.” After all, we live in a world that can be more distraction than substance, if we let it.
Are you willing to give it a try with me?
If so, here are some tips to help you gain the advantage of single-tasking:
Single-tasking might take some time to get used to, especially if you’re accustomed to working on multiple projects at one time. However, focusing your efforts on a single task will help you think more clearly and determine what steps must be completed.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of ideas but these tips will help you get started with single-tasking. Multitasking can be very stressful. Wouldn’t it be nice to make your life a little less chaotic? Single-tasking can do a world of good for your emotional, mental, and even physical well-being. It’s the sane alternative to multitasking!
Leaving you with this from the lighter side: Is it officially multi-tasking if I am listening, ignoring, and talking under my breath at the same time?