The Power of Monotasking

Still think multitasking is the key to productivity? You're wrong.

Many of us assume that multitasking is the most efficient way to work. Why focus on achieving just one task when you can tackle several all at once?

That’s a good question. It makes logical sense to expand your workload and maximise your output within the timeframe that you have. In practice, though, it just doesn’t work. Psychologists have even proven that multitasking actually inhibits productivity more than it enhances it.

Playing catch with one ball is easy. Juggling with two is a little more difficult. Make that five, and you’re probably going to drop a few — if not all of them.

In much the same way, taking care of one task at a time allows us to focus intently on it, giving it our undivided attention and therefore completing it to the best of our abilities.

Sometimes when I’m writing, I’ll also have several other tabs open. As soon as an email crops up, I’ll stop to answer that. Then it’ll be a text message. Then I’ll check my Twitter notifications. Finally, I’ll go back to writing.

The issue, though, is that in doing that, it becomes very difficult to find any flow. I can’t get into the zone, because I’m split between four different zones.

Instead of multitasking, try mono-tasking. Manage one task at a time. Close down all of those other tabs, switch your phone onto aeroplane mode and give that one task 100% of your focus.

Then, reflect on the results. You’ll probably notice two things:

  1. You were able to remain focused for far longer, reaching that blissful state artists call ‘flow’.

  2. The work you produced was of much better quality. That’s because you were actually paying attention to your work, not to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Make monotasking a habit and watch your productivity levels soar. It’s simple but effective. And often, the best productivity tricks are exactly that.