(3 Minute Read or Listen Below)
We check social media while we watch television. We read emails while on video calls. We text while we drive. The common term for this is multitasking, but the label is inaccurate.
It's a well-publicized fact; the human brain cannot focus on two mindful tasks simultaneously. (Extra emphasis on the word "mindful.") What we're doing is switching our attention from one task to another. And contrary to what we often think, we're not good at it.
So, why do we do it? Why are we drawn to multitasking? Most of us do it because we feel we have too much to do, and we see multitasking as the only way to get it all done.
One of the most frequent obstacles I hear about is there aren't enough hours in a day. I sometimes declare this myself. But it's interesting to know, research shows it can take up to 25-percent more time to complete each task when we multitask, compared to if we had focused entirely on one task at a time. In other words, single-tasking saves us time.
It's disturbing and hard to accept, but we may be a significant contributor to our own time monster!
I'm not immune to the trap. I find myself writing an email while listening to an information-filled podcast. As a result, I have to re-read the email multiple times to be sure it makes sense. I also have to rewind the podcast several times to make sure I haven't missed an intriguing detail. I often pay bills while a movie plays on my laptop. (My husband and I don't own a television. So on my computer, I have one little window playing Netflix. At the same time, another displays my budget and yet another my banking information.) When I do this, I must triple- and quadruple check transactions before I execute them. Also worth noting, I'm not paying attention to the storyline of the movie. So why do I even have it on? My husband asks me this question all the time, and my answer is never a good one. If all I want is background noise, I could easily play some lovely, non-distracting music on Calm Radio. But I don't.
Look at the hours we spend working. Can you imagine shaving off 25-percent of that time? Can you believe you have the power to make it happen just by focusing on one task at a time? It doesn't seem possible.
Single-tasking is so hard because our habits are deeply ingrained, and we all know how difficult it can be to change them. The added complication to single-tasking is our attention spans are at an all-time low and our susceptibility to distraction at an all-time high.
We owe it to ourselves to maximize our time so we can enjoy life. I'm challenging myself, and you, to make it happen.
Not sure how to get started on this single-tasking journey? Let's turn to a simple yet profound framework - The Productive Environment Process™.
Let’s embark on this journey of focus together! I’m confident the rewards will be worth the effort.
The Productive Environment Process™ ©2005-2020 Productive Environment Institute | Used under license to Kathy Muzik.
The Pomodoro Technique® is a registered trademark by Francesco Cirillo. This blog is not affiliated with, associated with, or endorsed by the Pomodoro Technique® or Francesco Cirillo.
I help established small business owners gain control of their time so they can increase productivity without sacrificing what matters most.