Our society places great value on multitasking. So, too, are our work environments designed for multitasking: Now more than ever, we use computers and networks that offer instant messaging, email, and other "productive" tools. We are constantly jumping back and forth between them.
Multitasking includes three different types:
Performing two or more tasks simultaneously.
Switching back and forth between tasks.
Performing a series of tasks in rapid succession.
While this way of working seems normal to many people, multitasking is a disadvantage. If we use single-tasking instead and consciously approach each project "task-by-task," we can be very productive.
The fastest way to get many things done is to do one thing at a time.
Our brain uses more energy than any other part of our body. When we have a task, we focus our attention entirely on the task at hand. Multitasking puts more strain on the brain's energy reserves because we are constantly shifting attention. Our short-term memory also benefits because we are not constantly trying to remember where and what task we left off. This added benefit helps maintain our energy levels.
Simply put, the human brain is not designed for multitasking. Studies have repeatedly shown the performance benefits of focusing our attention on just one thing.
With a single task, we are focused on what is in front of us and nothing else. What does this increased focus do? It creates engagement because single-tasking causes us to complete one task at a time. Single-tasking requires us to grapple with decisions and be very performance-oriented.
The benefits of single-tasking lead to self-discipline through conscious, focused effort. Distractions, however pleasant they may seem, cause us to pursue them. When we resist them, we practice self-control. It's simple: self-control is built through single-tasking, and self-control is the sibling of self-discipline.
It's pretty easy to tell when people are distracted. Be it the driver who is preoccupied with his smartphone while driving or the employee constantly running into the break room to deal with private matters. There is no getting around the fact that thoughts often cause people. Single-tasking strengthens us internally when we do not pursue internal or external disturbances.
Single-tasking stimulates our attention. Even though we sometimes have to work on a task for a long time before we achieve noticeable improvements in attention. Studies show that the average person's attention is eight seconds. Eight seconds. We can change that statistic.
Nowadays we feel like we have to be busy all the time. Single-tasking can be applied to every area of our lives and can make us happier people. We can have much more fun with family, sports or our hobbies if we give them our full attention.
How many of us take mental time-outs in conversations and stop listening? With single-tasking, we not only give another person our full attention (an admirable and respectable trait), but we are also more in tune with our thoughts. The end result is an individual personality that is present - all the necessary components to communicate effectively.
What is more important than our personal and professional relationships? Not much. When we focus on our contacts without doing a whole lot of other things in parallel, we improve our relationships and get great pleasure from them.
Single-tasking is not only a great advantage professionally but also privately. Almost every part of our daily lives can be positively impacted. With this in mind, you should ask yourself the question, "What can single-tasking do for me?"