As much as I advise against multitasking, you would think I had a personal vendetta against it. The truth: I do. I see the way multitasking robs us of productivity and being in the present moment. I hate how tempting it is in a society where we are constantly overstimulated to stray from the idea of monotasking. I know how addictive multitasking is, psychologically addictive to be exact, fooling us into believing we are productive when we are just busy.
What we miss? The present moment. As Andy Hill puts it, “Instead, we sacrifice now for later with the hopes of future happiness. If I can get two done now, I’ll have more time then.”
If you’re feeling like you need more time in life, I wrote this article for you. I just want you to try it for a week or two so you can see the difference.
Here’s what I’ve found out about monotasking:
I can see progress faster.
When you work on multiple projects at once it’s easy to get excited seeing the mini-milestones you get past, yet you look up and a few months have passed while you’re still working on the same thing. Because I work on one project at a time I find myself getting to move on to newer, more exciting projects every 4-6 months. Before when I multitasked I made progress on projects but were stuck on them for years at a time.
One reason for this is that it takes a whopping 23 minutes to get back to the task at hand after an interruption according to Gloria Mark, a professor at the University of California, Irvine.
Also, because I spend short spurts of time on the projects I rarely get tired of them prematurely. Before when I multitasked I wouldn’t get things done because I would get tired of them. Fast progress means not having to worry about your motivation slipping and the project never gets completed.
I prevent myself from project jumping.
If you’re anything like me, new projects are like a new pair of shoes. When you see them they’re exciting and you love them, but as time goes on you see another new pair. Of course, the shoes are still a great pair, but the newer pair always looks and feels better.
When you make the decision to commit to one project through completion, there’s no turning away from it. You can’t procrastinate using the newest, shiniest idea as a distraction and that means you have to be disciplined and actually complete it. Having only one project keeps you accountable.
I always have something to look forward to.
While you’re working on your one project, there will be a number of ideas that come to you. Be sure to write them all down. In this way, when you do complete your project there won’t be any question of what needs to be done next.
When you’re working on multiple projects it’s hard to have a clear picture on what you should do next because honestly, you can’t quite figure out how to commit your time. When you monotask you know that all the time you’re using for the current project can be used on the next project, and it makes you excited to finish up so that you can move onto bigger and better things.
Have I convinced you yet?
Here is a tip from my friends over at Inc:
“Start your day by asking yourself two questions:
1. What could I do today that will bring me a sense of meaning and purpose? 2. What are the two most important things I can do today that would have the greatest impact?”
Ready, set, monotask!