By now, most people have heard of multitasking. In fact, you may find yourself doing it daily. Whether you’re eating while watching television, on the phone while at the grocery store, or texting while driving (not suggested), multitasking is pretty normal, wouldn’t you say?
If you’re in a business career, you may multitask by eating lunch while checking emails, checking emails while in a meeting, or conducting a meeting while dreaming about getting off work. Whatever the case may be, multitasking has become a part of the hectic, American lifestyle and the business culture.
But what if multitasking is actually hindering your productivity and stopping you from advancing in your business career?
And what if multitasking is actually impossible?
It turns out that multitasking isn’t as great as you may think. In a 2014 study, it was found that interruptions of only two or three seconds can double the number of mistakes you make in the project that you’re working on.1
Did you hear that?…Double!
So, if two to three seconds – the amount of time it takes to answer a quick text or delete an unnecessary email – is enough to cause errors in your work, then obviously what’s been said about multitasking all these years is a bit deceptive.
If multitasking isn’t effective, then how can one make sure that they’re as productive as possible in a business career?
The answer is monotasking. The art of doing one thing a time.
Monotasking can lead to more productive days which, ultimately, can advance your business career.
Here’s what you should know about monotasking and how you can advance your business career by doing it:
3 Things Research Has Revealed About Multitasking
1.) It is impossible for the human brain to multitask
With the busy life you live, it may be hard to believe, but research shows that it is true. Rather than multitasking (doing multiple things at one time), our brain quickly switches from task to task. When you switch from task to task, especially over short periods of time, your brain goes through an “adjustment period.” Once the adjustment period is over, you can work at your full productivity capacity.2
2.) Monotasking increases productivity
Since it takes a while for your brain to adapt and reach its maximum level of productivity after switching tasks, it’s easy to see how moving from one thing to another frequently can be a problem. If you switch tasks every 20 minutes but it takes you 15 minutes to reach your highest level of productivity, then you are only working at your full capacity for a short period of time before having to switch again.2
3.) Your brain does not work like technology
It’s easy to think that humans can jump from one thing to the next like Google, but research reveals that humans aren’t too great at it.1
Technological devices like smart phones and tablets are capable of doing multiple things at once. But the human brain? Not so much. Since it’s clear that your brain isn’t a master multitasker like technology is, it’s best to stick to what’s best for your productivity and your business career: Ditch the multitasking and start monotasking.
3 Ways to Start Monotasking
1.) Plan ahead and set boundaries.
Here’s the advice that Earl Miller, a professor of neuroscience at The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT, has about multitasking:3
“Start by blocking out a period of time to focus. Eliminate as many distractions as possible… Don’t try [monotasking] by willpower alone; it’s too hard to fight the thirst for new information,” he said. “If you find yourself unable to concentrate, try taking a short break and move around. Increasing blood flow to your brain can help restore focus.”4
2.) Manage Distractions Wisely
If you’re in a business career, it’s going to be extremely difficult not to multitask or switch from one task to another. But there are ways that you can manage distraction to minimize the amount of time you spend switching tasks and maximize the quality of your work.
Make a list of which things are worth being distracted by and which aren’t.
3.) Put Your Best Foot Forward in Every Task
It’s important to focus on one task at a time, but it’s also important to try your best in every single task that you are doing. Monotasking is pointless if you only put in half the effort for each task you do.
Your Business Career Needs a Boost: Start Monotasking Today
As a business professional, it’s important to make sure you are exceeding the expectations your company and coworkers set for you. This means meeting deadlines, but it also means producing quality work and trying your best in everything that you do.
If you find that you toil all day long at work but really don’t get much done, then it might be time for you to throw away multitasking and pick up the new skill of monotasking. It may take a while to get used to, and it may not be something you can do every second of the day, but monotasking can take your business career to the next level if you commit to it.
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