When preparing for one of my first job interviews, I was instructed to emphasize my ability to multitask. Growing up, my mom would tease my dad that he could only focus on one thing at a time. I, along with many other millennials, have always been told that multitasking is good, superior even. Now all of that is changing; multitasking is out and monotasking is in.
But what is monotasking exactly? Well, it’s the new-and-improved way to get shit done. No longer do people believe that being able to juggle multiple things at one time is the best way to be productive. It’s all about focusing and finishing the one thing you’re doing instead of switching between tasks. This means no TV when answering emails, not listening to podcasts while running and simply not putting one task aside to focus on another in the middle of it. It’s all about powering through a to-do list, one thing at a time.
If you don’t believe me, there are many research-backed reasons that state that monotasking is a much better practice. Not only does it increase productivity, but implementing a monotasking mindset can really improve your overall life. Here’s how:
Your Work Quality Can Become Better
When you focus on a single task instead of juggling between two or, let’s be real, three or four, you’re able to put all your attention on that single thing you need to work on and give it all you got. This sort of consistency is key when it comes to quality. In fact, research has shown you’re 50 percent less likely to make errors when unitasking.
So if you want to improve your work, the best way to start is by pushing yourself through it instead of toggling to the next thing on your to-do list. Working through something consistently allows you to completely understand what it is you’ve done, what it is you’re doing and what it is you need to do. This allows the outcome of the job you’re tackling to feel totally smooth and intact, therefore, much more competent.
You’ll Have More Time to Do Other Things
With the distraction of social media constantly lurking on every screen, it can be hard to resist taking a peek at that Instagram image from your favorite influencer or that Twitter news update that just appeared on your screen. But resist we must because checking your Instagram or emails is a sure-fire way to break your workflow and lose time you can spend doing other things.
Think about it: once you stop working through a project, you lose sight of what you’re doing and where you are. To get back into the groove of things, it takes time. If you continue working through one task until complete, though, you can just flow through and save maybe even hours in the long run.
Even though it may seem harmless to read a quick tweet or scroll through Instagram, studies have shown that even the small fraction of a second lost when physically making the switch cumulated to decrease productivity by 40 percent. So even though it may seem like you’re getting less done because you’re not working on as many things at once, in the long run, working on one thing until completion saves tons of time.
It Can Help Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Multitasking isn’t just bad for productivity, but it can also affect one’s mental health. The tactic of juggling multiple of responsibilities at one time is a recipe for anxiety. In doing so, the brain releases stress hormones like adrenaline, which can make it hard for you to focus and complete more tasks.
Even though implementing monotasking won’t shrink a to-do list, having a single-task mindset will make you feel more in control and accomplished. For instance, jumping from the second to the fifth thing on your list can make you feel chaotic and unnerving. But crossing off the top important things you need to accomplish for the day can feel good and productive. So start by prioritizing what needs to get done, then complete the top three priorities first before moving onto the less pressing ones. This will keep everything in check and give you a sense accomplishment that will help make you feel in more control. Not to mention, monotasking is a form of mindfulness, which has shown to improve happiness rates in many people. So there’s really no reason why you need to multitask anymore.
You Can Really Focus on You
In this day and age, we have access to everything at our fingertips. Sure, it’s great to be able to listen to audio books or podcasts while physically doing something else. However, it can also be beneficial to fill those times where you’re working out or walking with nothing else but a clear mind. Monotasking can become a mindfulness practice if you allow it to be. It’s the idea that being present in that single moment is the most important. It’s shown that this type of mindfulness can improve depression, substance abuse, and chronic pain.
It may sound boring or even scary to just sit in your own thoughts, but it’s actually a great way to meditate, become comfortable with your thoughts, and more reflective and understanding.
You Can Enjoy More Quality Time With Friends and Family
As previously mentioned, monotasking can be a time saver, which means a shorter workday, leaving you more time at night to grab drinks with girlfriends or catch a movie with loved ones. As exciting as this sounds, it’s not the only reason monotasking can improve your social life.
As a monotasker, you can choose to solely focus on and enjoy the conversations and quality times you have with people you care about. You should try not to be on your phone, checking emails or scrolling through Instagram (okay, we’ve all done it, but work with me here). Instead, you should try to pay full attention to the people you’re with and what they’re doing and saying — because you’re a good person like that, and your mama would be proud that you don’t have a phone in front of your face.
Another way to implement this practice is to monotask the events of the time together you have with your friends. For example, if everyone is busy chatting and too distracted to put their order in at a restaurant, ask everyone to stop for a second and spend time looking over the menu before engaging in conversation again. Once you’ve decided what you’re getting, you won’t be stressed trying to figure it out or put your order in while you’re trying to catch up.
See? There’s a lot more to monotasking than you might think! Now work on that to-do list and get shit done.
Feature image Stocksy