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Multitasking is a thing of the past. The new trend is singletasking.
What in the world is singletasking? It’s exactly what it sounds like: focusing your attention on a single task rather than trying to juggle several different tasks simultaneously. It wasn’t long ago when productivity experts were stressing the importance of multitasking, saying it would allow you to get more work accomplished in less time. It’s hard to argue that multitasking — when done correctly — can prove effective at boosting your productivity, but many people are now claiming that singletasking is the way to go.
The general principle behind singletasking seems easy enough. By focusing on a single task, you won’t spread your attention or resources too thin; thus, resulting in more work being produced. But is there are real benefit to singletasking?
According to an article published by the NY Times, it takes the average office worker 11 minutes to regain his or her focus after being distracted, and 25 minutes for an office worker to return to his or her original task after an interruption. That’s nearly half an hour! All of that time could be used for more productive work rather than regaining focus.
Singletasking is based on the belief that working on a single task allows workers to remain focused. So instead of allowing your attention to float off towards some other mundane task, you’ll keep your eyes on the goals, which should boost your productivity.
Devora Zack, whom recently published a book on singletasking, explained the benefits of this practice by saying the brain cannot be in two places at once.
“The brain cannot be in two places at once, so what people are referencing as multitasking is actually what neuroscientists call task switching and that means rapidly moving back and forth between different tasks,” said Devora Zack, author of the book Singletasking: Get More Done – One Thing at a Time. “When you overload your brain trying to get it to task switch, you shrink the grey matter in your brain.”
If you’re thinking about giving singletasking a shot, there are a few things you should know. First and foremost, you must eliminate all distractions from your surrounding environment. Even small distractions like an open Facebook tab in your web browser or instant messaging will negate all of the benefits this practice offers. Remember, the core of singletasking is to remain focused on a single task, so don’t allow your mind or attention to drift away towards other tasks.
It’s also recommended that you create a time schedule for your daily work, outlining each and every task that you hope to accomplish along with an estimated time of completion. You don’t have to necessarily follow this schedule minute-for-minute, but instead use it for guidance on how much work you have left to accomplish.