Day 608. There are thousands of articles on the web and dozens of books on time management that all emphasize why multitasking is not as efficient as planning, serializing tasks and focusing. Easier said than done in an era of constant distraction and attention deficit disorder. Actually, as much as I like focus and concentration, it happens that I multitask, particularly when a task, like a download, does not require my attention. However, as soon as a task requires your attention, you need to give it 100% of your attention. Not less! We could argue over and over the benefits and the downsides of multitasking, here are 8 reasons I found useful to not multitask when tempted:
- Respect. When I speak to somebody and that person replies, I am 100% in the conversation. No phone, no tablet, no interruption. If I am waiting for an important phone call, I warn the person I may get interrupted, but other than this, I pay 100% respect. I feel horribly rude to watch an electronic device when speaking. If I am boring, let me know, if something annoys you, let me know, just be respectful!
- Speed. When getting on one task, you set the bar higher to make it faster. Just do it, like the slogan says. Because you are 100% focus on that task, you will want to come to its end faster, and this is the third reason.
- End. If you define the end, you define the speed and time will generally just be right. If it happens you need more time, just define another end time or plan another slot accordingly. When a task has a defined end, you will want to end it because of the fourth reason, dopamine.
- Dopamine. Dopamine is the neuro-transmitter for satisfaction. When you tick a done task on your task list, your brain releases a shot of dopamine that makes you feel good. By monotasking you’ll have multiple shots of dopamine every day, each reinforcing this feeling of pleasure. At the same time, you’ll decrease the fifth reason: cortisol.
- Cortisol. Cortisol is the hormone of stress. The more stress, the more cortisol. The more cortisol, the less immune system, and potentially the more illness. You get the picture. By serializing and finishing tasks, you keep your cortisol level at the right rate.
- Creativity. I discovered that when I am planning and acting accordingly, my days end up with more free time to unleash my creativity. This provides great additional ideas to do things faster or better clarity on how to deliver more value.
- Control. You are in control when you plan and focus, and are not driven by others’ priorities. Yes, sometimes, you need to answer outside requests, but by setting the time and pace, you gain control, better satisfaction and better return on relationship.
- Procrastination. By doing one thing at a time, with a define end and a tick in the box when done, you end up your days with a clean sheet and procrastination is an habit of the past. Just simply powerful!
If you apply monotasking to 80% of your days, your productivity and satisfaction will increase at least two-fold! It can even go to three times higher. I’ve seen many instances during which I could do in one day (one normal day, not overworking) what I thought would take three days. Do you know what can derail a good planning? Human interaction. You can never spend too much time with people, but as any other tasks, set expectations, define outcome and be 100% there.
Make it a habit to monotask, to dedicate time and energy to get better day in day out. You’ll discover by doing this you’ll get more free time you would have never expected. Above all, have fun!