Becoming a UNI-Tasker
To multitask, means to perform two or more tasks simultaneously. Surely, every #careerlion has multitasked at some point or another. Thinking that this was very efficient, being such a brilliant time saver and all. In hindsight, not actually being that effective as (I might be breaking your bubble here) there apparently is no such thing as multitasking! Say what now?!
According to Winch, multitasking is really just task switching. By doing this, your limited attention span is wasted on this task switching rather than simply completing them. Also, it will not allow you to get your flow on as much as uni-tasking (one task at a time) either. Well, this does not sound LEAN at all!
Multitasking advantages generally considered are saving time and money, productivity increases, and preventing procrastination. However, these benefits only outweigh the following list of disadvantages in a limited number of cases:
- Tasks take up more time as you spend quite some time switching (deciding which task to switch to and remembering where you left of for with respect to a certain task),
- Decreased productivity in the event of switching tasks so frequently,
- Making more mistakes because your brain cannot handle too many complicated tasks at once,
- Induces stress as a consequence of poorer performances due to the effects of task-switching and being on high alert mode constantly,
- Inattentional blindness (failing to recognize fully-visible unexpected objects) through task-switching causing unawareness of one’s surrounding,
- Declines in the short term memory as the side-effect of switching tasks abruptly,
- Implications on relationships (a.k.a. phone usage during personal conversations),
- Fatter as your brain will not fully process what you’re eating, and
- Lower problem-solving abilities with your brain’s “working memory” used for task-switching instead.
If this list is not convincing enough to convict to the uni-tasker lifestyle, I don’t know what will. Although I was slightly ignorant about the downside of multitasking, I believe becoming a uni-tasker now is still better than never. I mean, did I ever truly think studying while watching entire seasons of my favourite series was super efficient? Was I really under the impression that painting my nails doing my homework was extra productive? And, did I really believe calling and instagramming and online-shopping simultaneously is super effective? It is time to open my eyes and become a uni-tasker!
A few tips that I started off with are:
- Perform tasks in batches to save time (i.e. paying your bills or handling your emails sequentially), while uni-tasking. With our brains functioning designed for serial processing, doing it in batches you get your “economies of scale” without the disadvantages of task-switching.
- Set timers restricting yourself to work on one task only. Whenever the timer goes of or your task is finished, you can decide on the task to work on next.
- Turning off all distractions! If you do happen to need your laptop or phone, try out some of the great apps that will block social media from your phone. I used to put a post-it on my phone. Every time I grabbed it, I would be reminded of my phone addiction and decide that I was not going to lose to my obsession. Also, turning off all (unnecessary) notifications on your phone or laptop can be very effective. However, be sure you are reachable for work related communication. Trust me, you do not want to go overboard on this one either.
How about you, are you ready to become a uni-tasker? Or will you keep your head buried in the sand, emailing away during your next meetings? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.