Multitasking vs Monotasking

One thing which I learned from writing longhand is that it’s much more difficult to multitask if you only have a notebook and a pen with you and it enabled me to be more productive.

Multitasking is easy nowadays. Each person has at least one device in their pockets which can perform multiple tasks at the same time. We’ve got so used to chat with our friends and family while simultaneously checking our email and social media notifications. When we work, our computer is connected to the internet and we’ve got all sorts of notifications popping out on our screen distracting us from our work. We stop our writing just to reply to an email or a comment while we simultaneously listen to music or a podcast and then quickly make a move in our chess game because we are doing that as well.

But, does it really work? Are we really multitaskers?

Studies show that we are not. Just like computer processors, our brains are designed to focus on one thing at a time. When we do two things at a time it actually means that we are switching from one task to another but while computers can be smooth at that, we can’t.

For example, let’s take two relatively simple tasks walking and talking. Yes, you can do both of them at the same time because walking requires little attention and your brain can switch when necessary from talking to walking without any problem.

If we replace driving with walking the things get a little bit scarier. Yes, you can drive on autopilot, most of us do; remember that time when you got to work and you don’t remember a single moment of driving because you were thinking about something else? We’ve all been there.

If you happen to chat with a passenger while driving you will have the same experience, but what are you going to do if another car shows up in front of you?

Exactly, you will stop talking, switch from autopilot to manual, and hit the brake on time, if you’re fortunate enough. There is no way that you will continue talking at the same time.

However, thanks to all distractions in our lives we tend to multitask more, not only that, but we also think that we’re good at it.

Again, studies show that more you multitask the worse you get at it and that’s because of something called attention residue. Unlike a computer who doesn’t have a problem switching from one task to another, you are equipped with attention.

According to some studies it takes you 15 minutes to regain the train of thought once you interrupt it with another task or another train of thought. Not only that, the more you do it, the more you time will it take.

As a result, you will make more errors on both tasks which you’re performing simultaneously and the time required for finishing the tasks will increase by at least 25% and in some cases by 100% and more. More errors means more revisions and even more time.

So, if you want to be more productive it is much advisable to switch to monotasking.

But how can you achieve it in the world of distractions and notifications?

One of the easiest methods is to turn off your internet connection on your phone and on your computer while you work on your most important tasks. That way, in the case of emergency, anyone can reach you by a phone call which is something we don’t use as often nowadays.

The other method is time blocking. You are supposed to a create a certain block of time for each task you want to perform. Let’s say that you want to write from 6 am to 8 am. During that period of time, your internet connection is off, as well as your phone, and everything which is not writing is considered as a distraction; no chatting with anyone, no preparing meals, coffee, no nothing, just you and your keyboard or a piece of paper.

If you apply that for each and every task you need to accomplish during the day, you will suddenly become more productive, and once you finish it all, you will have more than enough time for social media and email and comment responses on your platform.

Last but not least, one of the things which you can do to improve your monotasking is meditation. The very practice of meditation is a monotask and if you can make yourself sit on the ground and only focus on your breathing for 10 or even 30 minutes, it would be much easier to focus on more important tasks later during the day. Eventually, you will build a focus muscle and monotasking will be much easier to accomplish.