Something that I have been reading into of late is Single Tasking. I believe this sort of falls under my eventual Minimalism series topic. Hear me out.
I would normally write this blog post with a YouTube video on in the background, maybe intermittently checking Instagram and most definitely eating a snack. I want you to stop and take notice what you are doing right now.
- How many browser tabs do you have open?
- Are you listening to anything (music, Netflix, YouTube) in the background?
- Are you eating?
- Is your phone being used occassionally while you work on your computer?
In today’s society, we try to do it all…at once. Multitasking is something that I’ve done for YEARS. MSN messenger, texting and playing Sims? Sure, no worries. It has also creeped into my work life. Sending emails amongst attending to regular tasks and also eating a chia pudding at my desk (with a sneaky YouTube ASMR video playing in my headphones). While we all think we are master multitasks, research shows that just a three second distraction can lead to DOUBLE the amount of mistakes when working on something while multitasking.
More alarmingly, our attention spans are less than a goldfish. The average attention span of humans in 2015 was about 8 seconds, while a goldfish has 9 seconds of focus. In the year 2000, our attention span was about 12.5 seconds. (source)
So, how do we combat this?
Remember when tabs weren’t a thing on the internet and you needed to open brand new windows each time? This was a bit of a blessing in disguise. By having only one tab open, we could focus more on the task at hand, rather than be distracted by other, more appealing or ‘fun’ tabs (I’m looking at you reddit.)
By offering a task your full attention, it will be done at a faster rate. This can apply to fully immersing your self in writing a blog post (like I am attempting at the moment) or setting a timer and cleaning your house continuously until the timer is up. Fully engaging in a task will ensure that the task is done correctly, and quickly. It also frees up your day for more fun activities and full relaxation time.
Something that I learnt in one of my previous jobs was a system for working called ‘bulking’. This is when you cut out big slabs of time in your calendar (allowing for small, 5 minute breaks in between every 20 minutes or so) to completely focus on a task. We were also encouraged to only check our email three times a day for 10 minutes. Attending to each email separately and filing away once completed. While this wouldn’t work in some work scenarios that largely rely on email as communication/work inflow, it can really help you to focus on single tasking.
Are you also a chronic multitasker? Do you think it affects your work?