Find out all about mono-tasking and why it’s better.
In a recent Wonderful World Survey almost all of us Home Tester Club members agreed that we like to multi-task. Not that we can multi-task. But that we actually LIKE it!! And when it comes to us Mums…..well, we just DOMINATE this skill don’t we!!
Juggling multiple balls, spinning plates and wearing an alarming amount of proverbial hats at the same time… these are some of the things us Mums are black-belt experts in. But doing more than one thing at any given time is less admirable and effective than we may have been led to believe…
The latest research has shown that mono-tasking is actually far better.
What is mono-tasking you ask? Quite simply: it’s doing just one thing at a time. I know, crazy right? But here’s why it’s catching on…
A study from Stanford University found that people who multitask are more easily distracted, less productive, score lower on tests for recalling information, and make more errors. Many other studies have also found that excessive multitasking has severe consequences on our mental and physical well-being. Among other things, multitasking impacts your short-term memory, leads to increased anxiety and inhibits creative thinking.
The reason is quite simple: our brains were not designed to work on multiple initiatives at one time.
In fact, there’s no such thing as real multitasking!
As multiple studies have confirmed, true multitasking (doing more than one task at the same time) is just a myth. Those people who think they can split their attention between multiple tasks aren’t actually getting more done. In fact, they’re doing less, getting more stressed out, and performing worse than those who mono-task.
So if it’s so bad for us, how can we break the cycle and protect our attention, focus, and time? Here are three quick tips to get you more mono- and less multi-focussed…
Open less browsers – literally and figuratively
Right now, you most likely have more than one web-page open. While you’re reading this post, you’re probably also doing something else – switching between multiple browsers, checking your messages and maybe even holding an offline conversation too! You may think you’re getting more done, but each activity is the poorer for it. So close the multiple browsers and get all your emails done in one session. Then turn away from your computer and handle your whatsapp messages. Then put your phone far away, and be really present in that meeting or lunchtime conversation. In a nutshell – stop switching from one task to another. This will no doubt require a bit of planning (we’ve got great tips to do that well here). But what you’ll discover (if the experts are right) is that instead of falling behind, by mono-tasking, you will get more done, more effectively and enjoy the process a little more too.
Protect time for real creative productivity
If your job requires you to apply your mind to creating something (from an excel spreadsheet to a business proposal to a movie script) – you need to have an uninterrupted block of time to do it justice. Experts suggest blocking off 90 minutes at a time (mid-morning and mid-afternoon work best) to do the work that requires your most intense concentration. During this time, do all you can to switch off every alert, unneccesary device and non-urgent human interruption. Easier said than done if you work anywhere near your kids, I know!
Mind the gaps!
Doing multiple different tasks in quick succession is also a form of multitasking. So just because you’re going through your to-do list at lightning speed doesn’t mean you’re free from multitasking, as you’re no doubt thinking about the next task while completing the current one. Experts recommend slowing down to really smarten up. Leave a little margin between tasks, just two minutes even, to close your eyes and re-focus your mind. You might even want to try using our 3-minute mindfulness exercise in a time like this?
What about you? Join the Mumversation below and tell us how you’re trying to mono-task as a Mum! The battle is real we know – and we need all the mutual encouragement we can get.
NEED MORE PROOF?
If you need concrete proof of the adverse side-effects of multitasking, take this simple test…
Take a sheet of paper and draw two lines on it. Now, time yourself while you write “I am a great multitasker” on the first line, and then write the numbers 1–20 sequentially on the second line (most people take about 20 seconds to do this).
Take a new piece of paper and draw two more lines on it. This time, time yourself switching between the two tasks. Write a letter from the sentence “I am a great multitasker” on line one, then write the number “1” on line two. Then alternate back and forth between writing the next letter in the sentence and the next number in sequence. Continue until you’ve completed both tasks.
You probably won’t have to finish both tasks before realizing that it’s taking you far longer to get through the exercise when you’re switching back and forth. This might not mean much if you’re watching a movie and scrolling through Instagram at the same time, but in the workplace, it not only slows you down but adds anxiety and stress to your day.
Written by: Julie Williams – Lifestyle editor