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The Life-Changing Magic of Monotasking

https://benjaminspall.com/monotasking/

benjaminspall.com

The Life-Changing Magic of Monotasking
Monotasking, also referred to as single tasking, is the act of working on one task at a time, instead of attempting to work on multiple tasks at once.

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Multitasking vs monotasking

Multitasking vs monotasking

Multitasking fractures your attention between multiple tasks at the same time; monotasking fully focuses on one task.

  • Multitasking is less about being able to work on more tasks at the same time, and more about hoe we switch between different tasks while not giving our full attention to any of them.
  • Monotasking (single-tasking) means working on one task at a time and it helps to increase our creativity, energy, and focus.

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Our brains are not wired for multitasking

When we multitask, we’re putting tremendous stress on our brains as we flit backward and forwards between different tasks.

Multitasking is a brain drain that exhausts the mind, zaps cognitive resources and, if left unchecked, condemns us to early mental decline and decreased sharpness.

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The dangers of context switching

Context switching is essentially bad for us: every time we switch between doing our work and checking our phones for example, we experience a “transaction cost” that drains our energy and slows us down.

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How to start monotasking

  • Commit to the Pomodoro Technique: this method breaks down tasks into short chunks of time, with a brief break in between each.
  • Save things for later: when you come across articles and videos throughout your day that force you to make a decision, don't break your momentum and start saving these items for later.
  • Make a to-do list and break down tasks.
  • Reduce digital clutter in your work life (notifications, for example).
  • Listen to classical music, electronic music, and even white noise (productivity music).

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Task switching

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Multitasking can have some merit

While you’ve likely heard that it’s physically impossible to do two things at once, that rule really only applies to tasks that require the same cognitive resources. If you can find ways to combine two tasks that are different enough - like listening to an educational podcast while making your commute, practicing for a presentation while getting your miles in on the treadmill, or brainstorming article ideas while doing the dishes - multitasking can actually serve to your benefit.

Work in chunks

Our brain focuses best in short spurts, so dedicating 25 minutes to one activity, taking a five-minute break, and then resuming that activity or switching to another activity for another 25 minu...

The Personal Kanban

It's a system to save us from our endless to-do lists, which can turn any job into a lifeless chore. It works on two principles: 

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Setting up

  • Create three columns on a board where you can use magnets or post-it notes. Label the columns: Options, Doing, and Done.
  • Write your individual tasks down on separate cards. Post all of these cards in the "Options" column.
  • From that column, choose no more than three to move into the middle "Doing" column. This is your work in progress.
  • When a task is complete, move it into the "Done" column, and choose a new option to pull into "Doing."

The Zeigarnik effect

Starting but not completing too many projects puts people at risk of the Zeigarnik effect, which states that people are better at remembering unfinished tasks than completed ones.