Health Advocate Blog

Be more productive with single-tasking

For many people, it can be easy to get caught up in several tasks at the same time, especially in today’s fast-paced, technology-driven environment.

However, by switching back and forth between a number of tasks, you are more likely to make mistakes and increase stress. Plus, research indicates that multitasking doesn’t save you time; in fact, it will likely take longer to finish tasks when you’re trying to do them at the same time versus separately.

The solution: Single-tasking, which means focusing on one issue or task at a time until it’s completed. Here are a few of the benefits of doing just one thing at a time:

  • Save time – By focusing on just the task at hand, you will likely complete it faster than if you jumped around to multiple tasks at the same time. For example, by focusing only on completing a report instead of checking email every 10 minutes, you can be more effective and less distracted, increasing the likelihood of finishing more quickly.
  • Reduce stress – Focusing on one thing at a time allows you to complete that task more quickly, but also with fewer errors, which can help decrease stress. Jumping back and forth between projects will only increase your anxiety and stress because you’re trying to juggle too many things at once without letting any fall.
  • Improve creativity ­– When you are trying to complete too many things at once, studies show that your brain doesn’t have the ability to think outside the box. By shifting your focus to one task at a time, you are more likely to notice things going on around you and think creatively.
  • Connect and engage – We’ve all done it – checked our email or other updates on our phone while having a conversation with a friend or loved one. When you set the phone down and truly engage with the person you are with, you are more likely to connect and have a meaningful discussion.

Here are a few simple tips to help you leave multitasking behind:

  • Dedicate specific times to email. This may not always be realistic, but when possible, try to wait until those times so that you can truly focus on the project you are working on without distraction.
  • Keep tabs to a minimum. We’ve all fallen into the black hole of the internet – opening tab after tab as things strike you, but this can lead to further distractions and reduced productivity. Only open sites you need for the current task to help you focus.
  • Take a break from your phone. Put your phone away so you can fully engage with those around you and reduce distractions that often pull you away.
  • Make a to-do list. This can help you manage what you need to do but visualize tackling one at a time. Just make sure it is realistic, so you don’t get overwhelmed and try to jump back into multitasking.

Make single-tasking a daily habit to increase your productivity, better manage your time, feel good about your performance, and increase your problem-solving and creative abilities. You’ll feel so good about what you’ve accomplished that you’ll wonder why you thought multi-tasking was a positive attribute!