Single-tasking VS multi-tasking

When you pursue many goals at the same time, your attention is scattered, and you are not as productive and successful. Why is single-tasking not a luxury but a necessity?

When you are pursuing many goals at the same time, your attention is scattered. You are not here and now, and everything you do is not done as well as it could be done by focusing on the task. Devora Zak, author of Single-Tasking, provides compelling evidence that you can't get more done by doing more than one thing "at the same time." This article is about why single-tasking is so necessary in everyday life.

Portrait of single-tasking

Single-tasking is not a tactic of dull stomping around something. It does not mean that you bring one piece of paper to the paper cutter in your office at a time.

Solving one task at a time involves focusing maximum resources of energy and attention on it - and achieving exceptional results and respect from others.

Single-tasking assumes that you are committed to your choice. You are completely dedicated to solving a specific problem. She obliges to focus on it in a specific period of time, including due to the "disconnection" from other requirements. You can tackle the next task later. At the same time, depending on the circumstances, it is not necessary to complete it completely. It is important to finish exactly the part that you have outlined for yourself. Switching from task to task increases the time to solve them.

Why multitasking is bad

Multitasking blocks the flow of information into working memory. The information that we do not have time to process does not pass into long-term memory. It turns out that the desire to do many things at the same time reduces our ability to complete tasks.

We find it difficult to concentrate. Our attention is scattered. We become impolite. Our productivity is declining. We lose control over the surrounding reality. We pretend that we can do a lot at the same time. Pretending is the key word.

What else? We are far away in our thoughts from those who are nearby. We listen to them half-heartedly, communicating with the help of technology with other people who are physically far from us, thereby destroying relationships with loved ones. Remember how often you talked to someone (as if), but you yourself could not take your eyes off the screen of your phone or laptop? How do you think a person feels, who may be trying to tell you about something very important to him? Think.

The practice of focusing every minute on a specific goal brings us back to the "here" and "now", restoring authentic relationships with people.

And here is another example. When something distracts us, the brain processes and stores information inefficiently. The constant loss and search for a thread of thought leads to the fact that we get tired faster and make more mistakes compared to the situation when we dive deep into the solution of one problem.

In fact, the consequences of multitasking are even more serious. Remember, you have probably seen how people:

- collided with the car in front at the moment when they looked at the screen of their smartphone; — do not budge with a green traffic light; — played on their electronic devices in the course of business or official events; - did not notice when their turn came to the counter of a fast food establishment or cafe.

Attempts by people to solve several problems at the same time are very costly to society. Too much. In the United States alone, careless driving leads to tens of thousands of victims every year: a person who crosses the road with his head buried in his phone can pay for it with his life. Multitasking is simply dangerous.

Enemies of the "here and now" principle

Pointless worries about events that have already happened or unfounded worries about the future are the main and tireless squanderers of our time, depriving us of the right to single-task.

We are also hindered by thoughts about what others will say. We cannot achieve maximum performance. Persistently looking for flaws and weaknesses in others is also a waste of time. This leaves our potential untapped.

The first step towards overcoming all these obstacles is to achieve full awareness. Notice in your mind what your thoughts revolve around on the way to work, when going to bed, in the last free minutes before a meeting, or while standing in line. Is this some specific "splinter" from the past? Or have you developed a habit of worrying about the twists and turns that might come your way?

Remind yourself that agonizing about the past, like worrying about the future, is not only useless but counterproductive.

It has been proven that attempts to resort to multitasking tactics always end in a decrease in productivity. If you are currently busy with more than one thing, then your attention is dispersed. The only way to do something well (or, to raise the bar, great) is to fully focus on it.

Based on the materials of the book "Single-tasking"