There was a time when it may have been considered admirable to be able to do multiple things at once. The better you were able to multitask, the more productive or successful you seemed. But as time went on – and further research has been done – it has been determined that multitasking is not such a good thing after all. In fact, it can even take a major toll on your mental health.
Even though it might not seem like it, when you try to do two things at once, you’re not going to be doing either of them as well as if you were fully focused. This can lead to disruptions in workflow, mistakes, lower quality of work, and other problems. You may find yourself having to redo things, which only takes more time.
However, even more important is the stress that multitasking can eventually lead to. If you struggle with this problem, don’t worry, it can be overcome by practice and focus. The answer to this problem is what is called monotasking.
Understanding Why Multitasking Is Not the Answer
Imagine you’re sitting down to work on a document for work. You’ve got the first paragraph done and you’re going strong. Your workflow is going well. But all of a sudden, your phone pings, signifying that you’ve received a text message.
The temptation to check it overcomes you and then you end up taking the time to respond. Maybe only a few minutes have passed by, but when you return back to your document, your focus has been lost. You have to bring yourself back to what you were working on and remind yourself where you left off.
While this might not seem like a huge deal, imagine if it happens again and again over the course of you working on that document. A job that should have only taken an hour can turn into two hours. The next thing you know, you’re wondering where the time went and feeling stressed and overwhelmed because you didn’t accomplish as much as you intended that day.
Further, when you’re constantly distracted and have to re-focus yourself on the task at hand, you are more likely to make mistakes. This can affect the overall quality of your work. You can miss important details and your retention is just not going to be as strong as it would be if you were fully focused.
A lot of people don’t realize just how big of a problem their habit of multitasking is until they consider how often they are distracted. Making the change from multi-tasking to monotasking can make a huge difference in your overall quality of life and save you a lot of time and stress.
Making Monotasking a Habit
Monotasking is essentially the opposite of multitasking. It involves devoting your full attention to one task at a time. In order to accomplish this, you have to recognize and learn to avoid your biggest distractions and disruptions. Receiving a text message is just one common distraction that affects people trying to work.
Your biggest distraction may be something entirely different. It can help to come up with a list so that you can then figure out how you’re going to combat each one. Some common distractions to consider include:
- Scrolling through social media
- Getting up frequently to get a snack or drink
- Flipping through the television
- Talking with coworkers
- Being distracted by a partner or family member (especially when working from home)
- Talking on the phone
- Checking up on the news
This is not to say that any of these things are necessarily bad. However, when they are occurring over and over again when you are trying to accomplish some work, they can lead to a real problem. That is why it is important that you schedule certain times for these actions and only do them within those particular time frames as much as possible.
For example, set a specific time during the day when you’re going to allow yourself to chat with your coworkers or friends and get some socialization in. But when it’s not that time, remember that you need to be working and focused on the task at hand.
If you need help remembering when these different set time frames are throughout the day, it can help to set an alarm or notification on your phone. Just remember that when that alarm goes off again, it is time to return to work. Another thing that you can do to make monotasking a priority is to make sure that you always have water and a snack at your desk. This way, if you need water or something to eat, you don’t have to get up.
Multitasking is a habit that so many people struggle with. In the moment, it can feel like you’re getting a lot done, but in reality, the constant distractions can make accomplishing a task take even longer and really affect the quality of work as well. We know that multitasking can take a major toll on mental health. Some people may even turn to substance misuse to cope. If this is your situation, there is help available. Our team at The Ho Tai Way has helped many patients take their lives back from addiction. To learn more, call (714) 581-3974 today. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.