One fine day, I felt like having a cup of tea. I slowly walked to the kitchen but picked up my phone on the way to check if I needed to put it on charge, suddenly I found myself standing in front of the kettle and asking myself “what did I want to do?”. I decided to reverse my steps and halfway I remembered “aha, I wanted to make tea!” then I quickly boiled water in the kettle and brewed the tea. I realized this is not the first time something like this happened, I really don’t think it is about forgetfulness but rather about not being able to focus on single tasking. Single tasking sounds easy but how many of us have been in situation like this (hands up)? It is nothing to be ashamed of really, especially in a world intentionally designed to grab our attention and distract us, taking our mind off things that were just in our mind seconds before.
I’ve always taken pride in my ability to multitask, in fact it is one of the key criteria that I often see posted on job descriptions on job advertising websites. However, I found out that multi-tasking is not entirely beneficial. Don’t get me wrong, we can still do multiple projects however we need to approach each project single task by task instead of doing everything at the same time. So, I decided to set a challenge for myself and try single tasking instead of multi-tasking.
If you are wondering what multi-tasking mean, it actually encompasses these different types:
1. Performing two or more tasks simultaneously.
2. Switching back and forth from one task to another.
Science is showing that even if you are better at multi-tasking than average, multi-taskers are more likely to be stressed than their single-tasking friends.
Besides, none of us are actually very good at it. According to science, our brains are not designed to do more than one thing at a time. If you read more into it, it actually makes sense. Here is an article I read that talks about this more thoroughly and a video that explains about the brain activity when we multi-task.
I am guilty of having the habit of trying to do 5 different things every time I sat down at my desk. I get so frustrated even before starting and start to be stressed about each thing. Reflecting, I just can’t believe I did it for so long. This happened a lot when I was working my 9-5 job, I’m glad that this is not so much the case anymore. Not because I don’t have a 9-5 office job now but because embracing slow living has given me the opportunity to slow down. Slowing down while being a full-time mum, you would think multi-tasking is the best choice, but it is quite the opposite of what I need. In fact, after starting to single task, I find myself feeling much productive, a better communicator and easier to stay focused on one thing at a time.
So, here are my 5 reasons why single tasking is better than multi-tasking
1. Single tasking increases productivity
According to research when the human mind starts to multi-task, it uses a lot of energy and loses focus along the way. While when we are single tasking, we are laser focused on what’s in front of us and nothing else. This not only increases productivity of completing the task at hand, but it also trains the brain to be committed in getting the task done. It is like you are on a mission and nothing will stop you until you accomplish it. I set myself time to work for 3 hours for ‘all things blog’ by dividing them into smaller tasks but the focus for that 3 hours was just my blog, what I found is that I was able to finish all the tasks under 3 hours. That put a huge smile on my face. When productivity increases, you tend to complete a task much more quickly and with higher quality as well thanks to laser focusing on the task.
2. Single tasking promotes happiness
When you single task, you get to finish your task at a productive timeline, this in turn increases your happiness within you as you celebrate the completion. When your happiness hormone increases, you get the maximum enjoyment with your family, or a hobby like reading or painting and, as a whole, a fruitful day. Whenever I finished my intended blog post, I am always extremely happy because not only I managed to put the words out to share with everyone, but I was able to train myself to write in a given timeline that makes me oh so very happy.
3. Single tasking improves our communication
How many of us get distracted mid-conversation? (raise hand) Yes, it is quite a common trait especially in this technology driven world. When we practice single tasking, like giving your full attention on your conversation with the other person, it can help to bring us into the present, promotes mindfulness by being in-tune with our thoughts. Besides that, you are also being respectful and thoughtful. When I give my children undivided attention without any distractions, I can see how happy they are communicating with me and at the same time I am enjoying those little cute conversations we have. Besides that, I believe that I am nurturing their communication skills, being respectful as well as improving mine. It truly is a win-win.
4. Single tasking promotes self-discipline
We naturally tend to want to do a lot at a time, so it takes some discipline to be able to single task and be focused on one thing at a time. If I don’t remind myself to be disciplined, I easily fall into the trap of multi-tasking without even realising it like my story of trying to make tea in the opening of this blog post. Looking back during my primary school days, we were given school homework daily and the homework must be handed in the next day. So, it takes self-discipline to focus on finishing our schoolwork (single tasking one homework at a time) before we can have play time or TV time. Now I truly see the essence of self-discipline being cultivated at such a young age, I think we all had our fair share of this. Furthermore, single tasking coupled with self-discipline can help us to deal with distractions like social media, noisy neighbours, you name it.
5. Single tasking helps you think better
Having our mind scattered over several task is so common; it is a trait of trying to multi-task all the time. This keeps us from thinking about what we are actually doing, instead of giving our full attention to the task in front of us. We will start to think about the next task, and we tend to be in a rush and in turn produce low quality work. If we single task, by focusing on one task at a time, for example focusing on a problem to solve, we will be able to think of that one thing for that period of time, holistically to solve the problem only. When I started doing this, I realized it makes me think better, it makes me approach the problem better and it certainly helps me overcome the anxiety of overthinking. Overthinking is something I constantly struggle with when approaching problems and have for as long as I can remember. So, practicing single tasking is helping me slowly to overcome it.
These benefits speak mountains. However single tasking is something we must train ourselves to do, so it may take some time, but I encourage you to just start or try by starting small focusing on smaller tasks. I am in week two and I’m already seeing improvements, mainly with my productivity, my self-discipline and my thinking. The other day, I sat down and decide to focus on my blog work by dividing them to single tasks. So, I managed to finalize a blog post, did some editing works, prepared captions and prepared photos for Pinterest all in 3 hours. I was surprised when I saw the clock with the number of tasks I got to tick off. It makes me happy and so I decided to share this journey with you.
I hope the above will help you see the benefits of single tasking. Are you a single tasker or a multi-tasker? Will you join me in this challenge to do more single tasking?
Thank you for reading and have a lovely day. 🙂
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