In the bustle of today’s world, multitasking is inevitable.
While multitasking helps maintain progress for multiple projects at once, it comes at a cost. Instead, monotasking saves you time, energy, and adds more quality to your work and relationships.
Monotasking is the ability to immerse yourself completely into one task until it’s complete. Incorporating it into your work life, family life and personal life helps create balance and fulfillment. Here’s how:
Monotasking is a mental exercise. Ignoring all the other tasks that want to distract you is not easy, but it does get easier with practice.
Once you’re able to focus on one thing without distraction, you can apply that skill to many other areas of your life. The ability to focus can improve your work, your relationships and your overall mindfulness.
When you’re a multitasking master, it can feel like you’re saving time and accomplishing a lot in different areas. The reality is, you’re actually maintaining rather than making progress.
Multitasking not only diverts your attention to manage different problems, but it also takes time to transition your focus between tasks. This is called switch cost.
Our brains can’t actually handle two tasks at once, so when we multitask, we quickly switch our attention between each project. The time it takes to switchcosts you time, adding anywhere from a few tenths of a second and upwards every time you switch focus.
Multiply that by the tasks being juggled and you’re actually increasing the length of time it takes to complete any one of those tasks.
In contrast, you’ll see an increase in how much progress you can make when all your energy is channeled in one direction when you monotask.
Another switch cost of multitasking is the quality of your work. Whether you’re multitasking by talking on the phone and driving, or managing multiple tasks in your work, the likelihood of errors and mistakes multiplies whenever you multitask.
In addition to completing projects faster, monotasking will help you create better work with fewer errors.
Multitasking is a prime culprit for burn out. When your routine includes constantly managing and addressing a multitude of tasks simultaneously, all the work looks the same and you never seem to get a break from any of it.
Monotasking breaks up these tasks so that while you’re immersed in a project, you get a break from the other ones you’d usually be managing by multitasking.
This applies outside of work, too. The practice of monotasking includes immersing yourself into play, into your relationships, and into activities that bring you joy. When you allow yourself to focus on these fulfilling activities without interruption, you allow yourself to be recharged, preventing that dreaded burn out.
Imagine the difference in your relationships if your interactions were completely focused without any distractions.
While life does happen and this isn’t always possible, it is possible to incorporate these moments of intention into your relationships when you stop multitasking.
Answering emails and messages during a thirty minute conversation doesn’t bring as much value as focusing all your attention on the conversation for ten minutes. In fact, you can probably finish answering all your emails in ten focused minutes, too, and have ten extra minutes to spare.
Leaning into your relationships with intention and focus creates deeper connections and more fulfilling relationships.
Monotasking isn’t an all-or-nothing alternative, but rather an addition to your mindfulness toolbox. While you’ll still need to multitask for certain projects, knowing how to immerse yourself into your work, your relationships or your personal growth will multiply the positive effects in each of these areas.
Monotasking is a practice about being present in the moment. Exercise that skill in all areas of your life, and you’ll find the exponential growth of its dividends.