Multi tasking or Single tasking – what is your take?

by Vijay Singh Share via -



A man who chases two rabbits catches none. – A roman proverb

Multi tasking or single tasking had been a topic of considerable interest to me of late but concluded that the later beats hands down in any given situation.  I felt that the people who attempt many chores at a time are not being more productive.

I think we’ll all feel – and do – much better if we live “in the moment,” and focus on the important thing rather than trying to do many things at the same time.

Devora Zack, author of the new book “Single tasking: Get More Done – One Thing at a Time”, says multitasking is a myth. “The brain cannot be in two places at once, so what people are referencing as multitasking is actually what neuroscientists call task switching and that means rapidly moving back and forth between different tasks,” says Zack.

Gary Keller –also opines “The ONE Thing delivers extraordinary results in every area of your life—work, personal, family, and spiritual.”

By focusing one task at a time builds momentum towards your goal, lowers down your stress level. It creates a rippling effect and enables you to master what matters the most to you.  And, you get the task done in half the amount of time you would if you were multi-tasking. In fact, while those who do multi-task think they’re getting lots done, the reality is that they actually get less done than those who do one thing at a time.  The reason for this phenomenon is that those who multi-task are found to have trouble organizing thoughts and zeroing in on solutions to a task or problem.

 

Why people multi-task?

Many a times, I have seen people multi tasking and wonder why they do it. May be because, it gives them an emotional boost and a positive feeling. But the fact remains that once you multi task over a period of time it culminates into a habit or a behavioral pattern and lowers your efficiency. It slows your performance because your brain was created to focus on one thing at a time and does much better when you do.  Researchers also say, that our brain is not meant for multi-tasking. It actually splits the brain, creating something called 'spotlights'. So if you are having lunch while watching the news and trying to send an e-mail at the same time, your brain trying to frantically switch between eating, writing e-mails and answering chats. It jumps back and forth as you focus on each task for a few seconds at a time.
Task switching, says Zack, not only lowers productivity by 40 percent but it also shrinks our brains. “When you overload your brain trying to get it to task switch, you shrink the grey matter in your brain,”

How do we switch to single tasking mode?

An adage says “Old habits die hard” but we may break the multi tasking behavior pattern by:

·         Switching your brain to passive mode You will be more productive if, several times a day; you step away from mentally challenging tasks for few minutes. Get some fresh air, for example, or just look out the window. Taking a break will help make room for your next inspired idea because a halt in constant thinking slows the mind’s rhythms to allow more innovative “aha” moments.

·         Focusing deeply Silence your phone, turn off your email and try to perform just one task at a time. Think it’s impossible to break away? Start with 15-minute intervals and work your way up to longer time periods. Giving your full attention to the task at hand will increase accuracy, innovation and speed.

·         Making a to-do list - Identify your top two priorities for the day and make sure they are accomplished above all else. Giving the most important tasks your brain’s prime time will make you feel more productive. Or, as Boone Pickens said, “When you are hunting elephants, don’t get distracted chasing rabbits.”

So, if you believe in multi tasking and want to switch to single-tasking, try out the above tips to stay more productive, happy and stress free. 





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