We’ve all met those people who can juggle six different jobs at once and accomplish them beautifully. Multitaskers are those who can do multiple things at once. And it’s been assumed for a long time that they’re doing something right. That they’ve figured it out. But what if we told you that the single-taskers were ahead of the metaphorical pack?
Working on one, and only one, a task at a time, giving 100 percent of your focus to that activity, is what single-tasking entails. Single-tasking may be applied to jobs both inside and outside the workplace, and it boils down to a straightforward premise: completing one item at a time increases productivity. This may sound contradictory, given that we’ve long been told that multitaskers are more mature, intelligent, and effective.
How does that function in practice? Let’s look at some of the many advantages of single-tasking.
Single-tasking boosts productivity.
Concentrating on a single activity reduces context switching and time spent switching from one task to the next. Multitasking has been found to make things take longer to finish — focusing on one action at a time will enhance overall efficiency because you’ll be able to get more done in a shorter amount of time.
Single-tasking can also help you avoid stress and exhaustion caused by squeezing a lot of minor activities into one sitting. Technological burnout has been increasingly challenging to manage, as we’ve been expected to monitor several gadgets, applications, and email accounts 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Single-tasking is an excellent strategy to avoid getting into the anxious always-on trap. One email at a time should be checked. Without responding to an SMS in the middle of your message, respond to one Slack at a time.
This frees up crucial mental space.
Did you know that our brain tries to handle 11 million pieces of information every second but can only do so with 40? That means that most of what you see isn’t processed at all. This suggests that multitaskers aren’t multitasking but are attempting to do so.
People who claim to be multitasking are going back and forth between tasks at a rate that reduces overall efficiency and production. By single-tasking, you reduce the number of stimuli your brain has to process and concentrate all of your attention on one item. This improves your chances of comprehending or completing that one assignment.
It’s easy to keep track of single chores.
How often have you attempted to multitask to forget about one of the tasks completely? When we’re multitasking, it’s considerably more challenging to keep track of our progress on each task since our brain has to constantly switch and reconcile progress on task A with progress on job B.
When you single-task, your brain has only one task to track and respond to, which improves your capacity to see a job through to completion. That’s not to say you can’t split down a task into sub-tasks; in fact, it’s something we advocate. Hive can help you stay organised by breaking down chores into smaller, bite-sized pieces.
Multitasking has been shown to have long-term harmful effects on the brain.
Consider your brain to be a supercomputer. You’ll notice that your computer is slow when you have 123 tabs open, three Adobe programmes active, and you’re trying to stream a Netflix show.
MRI scans of multitaskers’ brains have shown that completing more than one task at a time reduces brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex. This isn’t ideal because this brain area is responsible for impulse control and empathy. Try concentrating on one tab at a time to slow down the process. In the long run, your brain will reward you.
Overall, it’s evident that single-tasking has significant advantages that are difficult to dismiss, and it may be the way of the future. However, during the COVID-19 crisis, some of us may not be able to focus on just one duty at a time — perhaps we’re watching our children, assisting them with schoolwork, or simply handling a slew of other uncontrollable factors. But don’t worry: even limiting your multitasking to 2-3 projects at a time can boost productivity.