01 December 2014

Desiderata: Single-tasking

"Responding to electronic interruptions is giving away your power and is the ultimate form of procrastination in contemporary life." (via)

We know that multi-tasking is a problem for most people. You just can't be as efficient when you have to switch from task to task  as when you focus on just one thing. But often, especially for mothers and in certain jobs, single-tasking is a luxury ... or seen as wasteful.
A multi-tasker of necessity, c.1990
Research shows that multi-tasking can reduce productivity by up to 40%, and lead to more mistakes. Through stress, it can damage your health. Through using up "working memory" it can dampen creativity.

As you get older, doing two things at once can be linked to memory problems: "When University of California San Francisco researchers [in 2011] asked participants to study one scene, but then abruptly switched to a different image, people ages 60 to 80 had a harder time than those in their 20s and 30s disengaging from the second picture and remembering details about the first. As the brain ages, researchers say, it has a harder time getting back on track after even a brief detour." (via)

Still, there are ways to help yourself...

- switch off electronic notifications

- do things in batches - getting into the mindset saves time

- pay attention to the person you're talking to - don't let the phone or texts interrupt the conversation

- pay attention to your food, rather than eating in front of the tv or at the computer

- if you start something, don't stop till you've finished it ("only handle it once")

"Almost everything except true emergencies can wait 
until you have completed what you are working on."

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