Elysian Being: Monotasking vs. Multitasking

Written by Jessica Comingore Photo by Laure Joliet

A few weeks ago, I made mention of reading an article over the holiday break about monotasking, and trying my hand at it as I started to dive back into work in the beginning of the month. The topic seemed to strike a chord with many and I thought it would be a good opportunity to explore the conversation a little further on here. Until stumbling upon this article, I wasn’t too familiar with the idea (or at least didn’t know they’d coined a name for it), but something about it really stuck with me. Monotasking essentially goes against everything our society pressures us to do on the daily — work harder, move faster, juggle more — yet it actually ends up being more productive than we’ve been lead to believe.

I’m 100% guilty of the multitasking mantra, and often find myself returning a text while updating my to-do list, halfway through an e-mail response with five Safari tabs open, and Photoshop running in the background. Just typing it out makes me stressed. Somehow I’ve justified it in my head that as long as I write everything down on a list, nothing will slip through the cracks. Though this working style tends to leave me feeling wiped at the end of the day without much marked ‘complete’.

Some say the idea of multitasking in general is a huge myth, that there’s no real way to focus on more than one thing at a time. It’s sort of like having lunch with a friend while they’re checking their e-mails. They’re not present with you and they’re not giving their e-mails their full focus either. Essentially, it’s a lose-lose. With monotasking (or single-tasking), you dissect your laundry list of tasks on any given day and unearth the two most important items. You put them at the top and make a point of finishing them in full before moving on to anything else. While it’s much easier said than done, the practice itself brings clarity to the fact that it’s not about doing more, but about doing less well.

While I’m no master just yet, I’ve acquired a few tips that may help put your multitasking days behind you:
• Eliminate distractions. Silence your phone, close your e-mail app, and eliminate any browser tabs that aren’t relevant to the task at hand.
• Less consuming, more creating. Swear off social media for a day and see how much you can really carve through.
• Make time for a walk. Even when there are a million things to get through, taking 15 minutes away from your desk provides some much needed perspective.

Do you have any go-to tips for staying focused? Chime in on the comments below.

 

Take-Aways

01. Monotasking Is The New Multitasking on Fast Company
02. Constraint on The Life Coach School by Brooke Castillo
03. Stop Multitasking, Start Monotasking on 99U

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