Being able to do three things at once gives you the ability to get more done in a day—or does it? While multitasking has been a buzz word for the last few decades, it has been taken to a whole new level with our new era of electronic communication. If you look at your day you are likely talking on the phone while, while IMing with a colleague, while checking your email.
While you are “getting” a lot done, none of these items are receiving your full and undivided attention, meaning your attention to detail is lost, and opportunities for improvement are being passes over in your desire to get more done at once.
The Goal Of Multitasking
In its essence multitasking was designed to think big picture, and to organize and complete tasks that support a common goal—to simultaneously link together tasks that are related. Or to maximize time by doubling up. While checking your email while standing in line for your morning coffee is one thing, responding to emails while in a face-to-face meeting with your colleague is another.
Studies have actually found that while you might feel as if you are getting more done when multitasking, quality suffers and details fall through the cracks. Not only that, it takes 98% of people longer to do two tasks at once, then two tasks individually. So if multitasking is not a way to improve productivity, what is the alternative to multitasking? Monotasking!
The Art Of Monotasking
Monotasking is the art of compiling your daily or weekly “to-do” list, and scheduling out designated blocks of time for pertinent tasks. The key to successful monotasking is to reduce the amount of “switching” from multiple tasks to another—which adds to higher levels of stress and anxiety.
By giving the task at hand your undivided attention you will increase your efficiency and zone in on areas of opportunity. You will instantly begin to see the quality of your work, and quality of your interactions shift in a positive direction.
The most difficult thing about monotasking will be avoiding the temptation to check your email, social media, and text messages—but after a few weeks of productive monotasking you will see the benefits of scheduling blocks of time for your pertinent tasks.
Of course you still need to check your emails and texts as part of your personal and professional life, but schedule those in in blocks of time too. This can be difficult because you feel as if you might be missing something—but the likelihood of missing something important by responding to constant distraction is far more likely.
Schedule Your Electronic Responses
Think about the last time you accidentally left your phone at home, or at your desk while you went to a meeting—you probably felt anxiety about leaving your phone, and it likely distracted you from your meeting and other tasks at hand—but it’s just a phone, and it has voicemail, caller ID, and multiple messaging tools. Why have such anxiety when you will have a clear record of all that occurred when you see it again? Do you really not have the attention span to give a 1 hour meeting your full attention? The truth is our electronic devices have taken multitasking to a whole new level and are wreaking havoc on our productivity.
Instead of responding to every email and text message alert the instant they come in, silence your alters and focus solely on the task at hand. Schedule your time to check emails and text—even once per hour, is better than 30-40 times per hour (and let’s be honest for many of us that 30-40 times per hour is drastically low).
While our computers, notebooks, iPads, and smartphones offer a vast amount of flexibility and freedom, they are designed for convenience not for constant distraction. If you find it increasingly difficult to disconnect, and are feeling overwhelmed by the commitments on you plate—implement monotasking into your daily routine and watch as your productivity increases, your anxiety and stress fall by the wayside, and your connections with clients, colleagues, family, and friends improve and strengthen.