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ONE TASK AT A TIME: MONOTASKING OVER MULTITASKING?


(Source: Photo by Standsome Worklifestyle on Unsplash)


We have always been told to multitask and somehow ‘manage’ our responsibilities because only then will we bear the fruits of our labor. Moreover, the pandemic has put some pressure on us that we need to pull up our socks because we stayed at home doing ‘nothing.’ Things like ‘slow fashion,’ ‘bell-bottom jeans’ are becoming trendy, it’s time monotasking should also be the new cool. But what does it mean?

Monotasking implies doing one task at a time from start to end before you jump onto the next task. Unlike multitasking, it demands complete attention and focus, solely on one thing so that things that require your importance get done in time.

Now, the reason why multitasking has got a bad name is because of the following reasons:

  1. While it may look like it is saving your time and, makes you believe that you are productive, it is not the case. Multitasking has been linked to increased cortisol levels, a stress hormone, that can lead to health issues over time. The brain releases dopamine, a happy hormone, during multitasking. Therefore, we fall into the vicious cycle of juggling between tasks, thereby not realizing that it will drain us in the long run.

  2. Juggling between tasks can make you feel like a superhero, but in fact, it leads to more chances of error. One recognizable example is not texting or drinking while driving, and laws have been passed to ban people from multitasking because of various instances of fatal accidents in the past.

  3. You might have noticed that a part of you is distracted when you leave tasks midway to jump to another. You might attend a lecture and think about submitting an online application form as per the deadline, at the back of your mind. You might have started filling the application form but completed it, and therefore, it stays with you. This phenomenon is called ‘attention residue.’ Here, the attention given to the task of filling the form is still present as you move on to do the next task of attending the lecture.


(Source: James Clear)


Whereas monotasking will help channelize all your focus on a single task, ensuring low levels of stress, more focus, and delivering high-quality work. We live in a world of smartphones and advanced technology, and it will likely get difficult for us to develop the habit of monotasking and here are four things I have personally tried to make sure that I monotask properly:

  1. Use the Pomodoro Technique: It entails having a fixed amount of time allotted for work and taking breaks. For instance, you can work for 45 minutes followed by a 15-minute break to ensure that things get done efficiently because the 15-minute break will help you recharge or relax. One of my friends recommended ‘Study with Me’ videos on YouTube which you can rely on. The YouTuber also uses the same technique in the video, plus it has acoustic music to help you retain your focus. I relied on this same technique to work on this article, and it has been beneficial!

  2. Turn off Notifications: It does help to stay focused and not get distracted because you wouldn’t want the things happening in the background or on your phone to affect you in any way. The Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma has also brilliantly explained how the world of social media consumes us. While it is impossible for us to completely get rid of the new world of technology, we still have the power to take charge of things.

  3. Prioritize: Before starting your day, it is vital to prioritize and see the most important thing to be done first. Ranking them in the order of importance gives us the awareness of why we must do certain things and assigns the value associated with the tasks. For instance, I made sure that I complete this article before I do something else, and while this wasn’t easy, it was indeed possible. I was getting distracted and started thinking about other things I needed to do. To make sure that I don’t get distracted, I opened Notepad and chalked out the things to do like ‘Watch the recipe of Makhana Curry’ after I finish my article. This helps me to chalk out things and prioritize accordingly. Another technique is before starting the main task; you can list down the things you need to avoid getting distracted while working on the main task.

  4. Work when you are at your best: Working late in the night helps me stay focused and complete things more efficiently. Others can work in the morning. Analyze what works well for you and take charge!

Monotasking might seem odd at first, considering how many people around us boast about ‘being busy’ and ‘sleeping less’ due to work and while implementing so can take a lot of time, there is no denying that it has many perks and most importantly helps to maintain your peace of mind!

 

Author: Madhura Bilimogga For Limelighting Life Collective

 

References:

Businessese. (2019, May 1). Train Your Brain: The Benefits of Monotasking. Businessese. https://businessese.com/the-benefits-of-monotasking/

Kale, M. (2021, March 15). Why the Concept of Multi-Tasking is Severely Wrong & Single-Tasking is the Best Way Around. HustlePost. https://www.hustlepost.in/post/why-the-concept-of-multi-tasking-is-severely-wrong-single-tasking-is-the-best-way-around

Basu, T. (2016, January 21). Something Called 'Attention Residue' Is Ruining Your Concentration. The Cut. https://www.thecut.com/2016/01/attention-residue-is-ruining-your-concentration.html/


Harkness, J. (2019, January 2). How to Monotask Your Way to a Productive Day. Freedom Matters. https://freedom.to/blog/how-to-monotask-your-way-to-a-productive-day/

Kim, L. (2016, February 2). Multitasking Is Killing Your Brain. Observer. https://observer.com/2016/02/multitasking-is-killing-your-brain/

Berry, S. (2016, January 27). Attention residue: Why focusing on multiple tasks can kill your work performance. The Sydney Morning Herald. https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/attention-residue-why-focusing-on-multiple-tasks-can-kill-your-work-performance-20160127-gmet34.html

Newsonen, S. (2014, May 23). Why Do You Find It so Hard to Not Multitask? Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/the-path-passionate-happiness/201405/why-do-you-find-it-so-hard-not-multitask

Sharma, G. (2016, June 11). Monotasking is the latest mantra of youngsters - Times of India. The Times of India. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/health-news/monotasking-is-the-latest-mantra-of-youngsters/articleshow/52688041.cms

Kubu, C., & Macado, A. (2017, April 20). Why Multitasking Is Bad for You. Time.https://time.com/4737286/multitasking-mental-health-stress-texting-depression/