The myth of multitasking has long been busted. So why do we keep falling back into our old, unproductive habits?
If you’re anything like me, it’s hard to break a habit if you don’t have a better method to replace it with. Here’s how to juggle all your projects through more efficient strategies than multitasking. Read more to lean how to be more productive.
Why Multitasking Doesn’t Work
Multiple studies have shown that multitasking doesn’t work, and if you truly want to be an efficient person, you need to focus on one task at a time. Researcher Zhen Wang says that people who multitask “are not being more productive, they just feel more satisfied with their work.”
So, what does multitasking do to your brain? It splits your focus. All your brain is really doing is jumping back and forth between each task and interrupting your productive flow. For our brains, multitasking does not mean we’re seamlessly working on all tasks at the same time, and because of this, it can zap brain power and cause our mental sharpness to decline.
An article for Harvard Business Review shows that our productivity goes down by 40 percent when we attempt to do multiple things at once. So instead of trying to multitask, we should be focusing on singletasking — which is the process of doing one task at a time until it’s finished.
3 Ways to Get More Done With Singletasking
Batching is a form of time management that allows you to focus on one type of project at the same time. It’s supposed to work well with your own body’s energy ebbs and flows. For example, if you’re super energized right now, you want to do your most active tasks during this time (like house cleaning, running errands, balancing your checkbook).
But if you’re having a lower energy moment, you might consider doing less taxing things like reading a book or answering emails. Batching together “like” tasks can help you harness your mental and physical energy levels to effectively leverage them.
2. Plan Ahead
In all likelihood, you understand the need to create a to-do list, but this step is even more important when you’re singletasking. Juggling everything you have on your plate is easy to do if you plan ahead. Start with a “brain dump” of anything and everything that’s coming up, then prioritize it by dates and task importance.
Each evening before bed, list out the next day’s to-dos and make plans for additional errands or sub-tasks that need to be done. When you wake up, identify the top two or three priorities of the day and focus on accomplishing them no matter what. At the beginning of each day, you’ll already have a game plan and can confidently tackle each project, and get more done.
3. Take Breaks
The Pomodoro Technique is a very effective way to get more done through singletasking. Basically, it works like this:
- Write down and prioritize tasks you need to complete.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes and assign a certain task to that time limit. Larger tasks can be broken into multiple chunks and repeated.
- Take a five minute break.
- Start another block of time, or “pomodoro”.
- Rinse and repeat until you’ve completed four blocks of time. Then, take an extended 20 minute break before starting the process over.
This is just one of the many methods you can use to recharge your brain by taking breaks. You’ll also notice that you’re able to get more done in less time because you’ve only blocked off 25 minutes to complete something. It’s much less daunting to sit down and work for a half an hour chunk, versus spending six hours on a project.
Block out your time this week to try out singletasking and stop forcing yourself to multitask. You’ll become more productive and less stressed!
Carrie Smith is the owner and editor of Careful Cents, a blog that specializes in helping small businesses and solopreneurs earn more money in less time through systems and financial organization. She also writes for The Huffington Post, AllBusiness Experts and several other business websites. Connect with her on Twitter @carefulcents.
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