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The Art of Single-Tasking

single-tasking multi-tasking perkspot culture

The convenience of the smartphone has turned us all into expert multi-taskers. We can listen to music, read our email, chat with friends and ride the bus, all at the same time. But how effective is multitasking really? Sure, we may get things done more quickly, but at what cost?

Here are a few reasons why you should choose to single-task:

Single-tasking focuses your attention.

When we switch rapidly from one task to another, our minds are never fully engaged in the work we are doing. Have you ever talked on the phone and driven at the same time only to discover you took a wrong street or drove a little too fast? This is because our brains were built to focus on one thing at a time. Choosing to do only one task at a time helps us focus our attention in a single area, so we are able to think critically about the task at hand.

Single-tasking requires taking your time.

So many of us receive an email and feel the need to respond within minutes – no matter if we’re sitting at the lunch table or getting ready for bed. But when we reserve bedtime for bedtime and work time for just that, we are much more efficient and less likely to make mistakes. Don’t send that email while you’re tired; wait until the morning to visit your inbox and make sure you’re responding with a clear head. Have a client who wants an immediate response? Shoot them a quick reply to let them know you’ll think about it and get back to them, or better yet, set the expectation before you leave the office that you prefer to respond with fresh eyes in the morning. You don’t always have to respond with an answer- chances are just acknowledging their request will be enough until the morning.

Single-tasking makes you present.

One thing that annoys me, but that I often still find myself doing, is leaving my phone out during meals. I have to say the majority of my coworkers at PerkSpot are good about keeping their phones put away during lunch, and I find that it fosters much better relationships and conversations. When we are constantly distracted, we are less likely to make memories and engage with others. Practice engaging in conversation without your phone beside you and you may be surprised at the memories you’ll make.

How-to Single-Task:

These tips will have you single-tasking in no time.

1. Incorporate #TablessThursdays

Pick a day of the week where you limit the number of tabs you’re using in your web browser. By choosing one day to be ultra-intentional about single-tasking, you’ll be amazed at how much you can get done.

2. Try the Pomodoro Technique:

  • Choose a task to be accomplished. If you’re embarking on a larger project, split it into a series of small, specific tasks.
  • Set your timer to 25 minutes (the length of one “Pomodoro”).
  • Work on your task until the timer rings.
  • Take a short break (up to 5 minutes).
  • After every 4 Pomodoros take a longer break (15-30 minutes).
  • Turn off phone notifications.
  • Set aside specific times for checking email throughout the day.

3. Use technology to your advantage.

Download extensions like Momentum, which reminds you of your to-do list every time you open a new tab in your browser, or One Tab, which consolidates all your tabs into one so you can go back later and review.