Whenever my parents attended my secondary school parent teacher interviews there was a consistent message from most teachers. ‘Karen is doing well, but needs to stop distracting others’. You see, I somehow managed to chit chat in class and still get my work done.
As the years have passed I have sustained my ability to multi-task, but have realised that I am actually at my most effective when I ruthlessly focus on one task at a time.
When I did some research on the effectiveness of multi-tasking I discovered a number of interesting resources discussing the dangers of multi-tasking.
This Business Time article’s headline reads Don’t multi-task: Your brain will thank you and suggests chronic multi-tasking will make you less productive.
Perhaps you’d like to listen to the Myth of multi-tasking and Clifford Nass, Professor of Communications at Stamford University. Click here to listen to Clifford explore the dangers of multi-tasking in the context of your productivity and creativity.
I therefore encourage you to single task.
I believe that to single task is to ruthlessly focus on one task until it is complete.
The concept of single tasking is similar to the idea of ‘being present in the moment’, a concept I first heard when I was approaching my 30s (I think it was Echart Tolle in his book, The Power of Now, who shared this with us).
I am now in my 40th year and see that Smartphones and digital technology are making this concept a real challenge.
If we let them.
Today’s insight is if you are working on important tasks that require higher order thinking and your full attention, then make sure you take a ‘single task’ approach to it, that is, ruthlessly focus on this task only, until it is complete.
No checking emails or answering the phone, tweeting or status updates allowed.
No radio or television on in the background.
Music playing? That’s up to you.