This post about Single Tasking originally appeared on Light Inspired last week. I will be submitting a few business / organization posts over there every couple of weeks, hopefully, so make sure to follow on Facebook for the latest updates! It’s a great resource for photographers of every walk of life (hobbiests and professionals) and I am thrilled to be a part of such a great community.
Now, I had to share this article with my Kate & Trudy blog readers as well, because I just think it’s so important. What are your thoughts on Single Tasking? Yay or Nay over multitasking??
What are the differences between multitasking & single tasking, you ask?
Multitasking: We all know what this is, right? It’s multiple, unrelated actions done at the same time, essentially. Examples include answering emails while on the phone, or addressing multiple big projects/subjects at one time (i.e. paying bills online while scheduling play dates with your kid’s friends).
What multitasking essentially does is allocate 100% of your brain power over each of the current tasks. This means that not only are you expending less energy towards each task, but every time you switch tasks, you’re further decreasing that energy.
This means that each time you multitask, you are (a) less focused and prone to errors and (b) much less efficient in your work.
Single-Tasking: So we bring in single-tasking, which is the process of doing only ONE task from start to finish with 100% of your focus. You guessed it, more focus equals less errors and more efficient work due to lack of transition from one task to the other. This is obviously something to implement in your life as often as you can.
How do we Implement?
Write it Down
Lists are my absolute best friend. Writing thoughts down removes them from your mind, allowing you to focus on the single-task at hand. Keep a pen and pad of paper nearby you at all times to make these notes.
I don’t know about you, but handwritten task lists are always more helpful than digitized notes such as those on my cell phone. Whatever works best for you, write it down!
Block it Out
In reviewing your task list, some items will stand out as more urgent than others. Projects or tasks with deadlines come before anything else, so estimate the time it will take you to complete each project and block out your time. I like to use Outlook for this since you can block out in 15 minute increments, but anything will work as long as you truly block out your time. That brings us to…
Shut it Off
Yep – you heard me. Put that iPhone in a drawer on silent. Turn off your WI-FI (unless you need it for the task). If you need to be connected, turn on a website blocker to keep away from Facebook, Pinterest and other addictive websites.
Clear your Mind
This point ties to #1 above. By writing down everything on your mind, you will clear it. However, it is important to clear it even further as you’re about to jump into a single-task project. You will have no room for multitasking here! Therefore, make one final list of things on your mind. Do you need to remember to pick up your daughter from ballet in 2 hours? Set a timer so you won’t forget or think about it in the middle of your task.
Get it Done
The next and final action to single-tasking is to simply “get it done!” Be fully present in the moment, focus on only the task you’re working on, and remember that nothing is more important than what you’re working on right at that block of time. You have created lists and nothing will be forgotten. Once your block of time is up and your project is done, every single thing on your list will feel easier and more attainable.
Try to pick a short project today to single-task. Give yourself a 30 minute window to try this out, and let us know how you felt when you were done!
Tips & Tricks
– We’re not quite done yet. As with any new skill, tips & tricks from tried and true experiences are helpful. Here are a few of mine:
– Find your ideal time of day to work on projects that require single-tasking. My time of day is anywhere from 7:30-12pm. Don’t ask me to do anything major between 1-3pm.
– Eliminate distractions by shutting the door, hiring a babysitter, putting puppy in the laundry room (in my case, her cozy crate), making dinner ahead of time, etc. Whatever causes you distraction must be addressed before taking on any major single-tasking projects.
– Listen to music to calm your mind and keep it focused. Spotify and Pandora are great internet stations if you’re connected. If your task is off the computer, use speakers or an iPod.
– Reward yourself with something yummy or a fun activity at the conclusion of your task.
– Color-code your lists by urgency. That way you can easily see which tasks to lift up to the top.
– Accept that single-tasking won’t work 100% of the time. Sometimes, you just need to multitask…and that’s okay. The purpose is to reclaim some of your time back as efficiencies by single-tasking. No matter how often you single-task, you will gain back some of your precious work-life balance!
I’m very interested in your thoughts, experiences, and own lessons learned!