Monotasking, also known as single-tasking, is the practice of dedicating oneself to a given task and minimizing potential interruptions until the task is completed or a significant period of time has elapsed. Monotasking contrasts with multitasking, which is the ability to divide one’s focus among multiple tasks.
According to Bryant Adibe, MD, the above is the textbook definition of monotasking. Never heard of it, you say? Well take note. Monotasking is the new multitasking for people that are into mindfulness. (I am- and not to be “judgy”, but I think you should be too.)
Monotasking is about re-thinking the way that you work so that you can better and more fully engage with your environment or the task at hand.
Studies show that when you multitask, you are not actually doing multiple things at once. Instead, your brain is rapidly shifting attention sequentially between each of the activities you are attempting. This is known as “task-switching” and is the death of productivity.
I never actually knew this had a definition, but for instance, when I have a big project or a blog to write, I have to remove myself from my normal environment, lock myself away and just focus. If I sit at my desk and go about my normal activities, including normal interruptions and multitasking to get things done, inevitably, nothing gets done well. Not to say you can’t knock administrative things out when you’re on a conference call or something (guilty), BUT for the important things, monotasking is key.
How do you do this? Couple of ways:
- Get into a deep work mindset. In other words, set aside some time for work that requires deep thought and do NOTHING else. And, nothing else doesn’t mean answering texts or responding to quick emails while you are working. It means doing NOTHING else. Got it? Nothing=nothing.
- Figure out what your peak working time is and where. For me, early in the morning before anyone is up is a good time, and I have to have my coffee with me as well. If I can be outside in the sunshine and write away, even better. That is MY peak productivity time for deep thinking. For many people, it will be during the day, maybe after lunch, or even in the evening. Figure out what works for you. In my experience, you will get the deep work done in record time, not to mention in tip-top shape too.
Since you cannot control everything, it’s important to develop a monotasking mindset in areas of your life that you can control, like work and even your personal time.
Go ahead, give it a whirl!