by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig
I used to think that I was a fairly adept multitasker, as long as one of the tasks was something completely mindless (I could stir things in a pot and make a list at the same time. I could vacuum and brainstorm). But after instances where I’ve spattered supper on the stove and vacuumed up things that weren’t supposed to be vacuumed, I’ve come to the realization that I really shouldn’t multitask at all.
I’ve made an effort to dial it back and become more effective at focusing on a single task.
Is it really multitasking?
In the article “Brain, Interrupted” by New York Time columnists Bob Sullivan and Hugh Thompson, they stated:
In fact, multitasking is a misnomer. In most situations, the person juggling e-mail, text messaging, Facebook and a meeting is really doing something called “rapid toggling between tasks,” and is engaged in constant context switching.
The danger in this, as stated in the article, is that we may never really return to the main task we needed to work on. The other tasks act as distractions … or maybe, more accurately, deterrents…to our productivity.
Multitasking too often means I’m training myself not to be able to maintain focus when I need to.
I’ve noticed, since the advent of computers and smartphones, that I have a much harder time focusing on reading and writing for any great length of time. That urge to check email or other messages is pretty overwhelming and can, on occasion, completely derail what I’m trying to do.
Multitasking can create stress .
When I’m multitasking, I have this very frenetic, stressed feeling. It’s hard to explain, but it’s not pleasant.
How I single-task:
I close other windows and tabs on my computer.
I put my phone out of arm’s reach.
I set a timer for my work. Then I set a timer for a break. Then I set another timer to work again. (For more about the Pomodoro method, read this.)
Batching tasks can also help. I may write several blog posts in one day, getting into the ‘groove’ of blogging. Or I might brainstorm and outline one day, staying in a creative zone.
Do you have a hard time maintaining focus on a single task? How do you pull off focusing?Why single-tasking and maintaining focus may make you more productive: Click To Tweet
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