The trap of multitasking
With so much to do it’s tempting to fall into the trap of multitasking—trying to accomplish several things at the same time.
Truth is, multitasking is actually misnamed. When you try to multitask, you aren’t actually doing two things at once—you’re rapidly switching your focus between two things. Every time you switch, you have to re-focus on the new task. Because it takes a few minutes to get up to speed on a task, these “switching costs” make multitasking extremely inefficient.
The research on multitasking is clear: people are bad at it, it slows you down, and can actually make you stupid. The irony is that you use more energy than the sum of energy required to do each task independently.
The strength of single-tasking
Single-tasking is the opposite of multitasking, and it’s better in virtually every way. Working on one thing at a time lets you dive deeper and do a better job at each task. This way you don’t have to spread your time, attention, and energy—the three ingredients of productivity—across many things at once.
Single-tasking lets you create more attentional space around your work in the moment, which lets you think deeper, make more connections, work more creatively, and find more meaning in the work.
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We challenge you:
Doing only one thing at a time is a surprisingly powerful way to become more productive.
We promise you:
Doing just one thing at a time helps you remember more, get more done in less time, distress, bring more attention to your work, and work smarter, instead of just harder.