Kevan Lee pulls us back onto the solid ground of focusing our attention, in his article How Single Tasking Boosts Your Productivity.
“Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty” (Proverbs 28:19)
How many browser tabs do you have open right now?
While writing this post, I had 18 tabs open. I’d like to say they were all for research, although I’m pretty sure one or two slipped down a YouTube wormhole.
Does this sound familiar?
It seems like my multi-tab madness is right in line with the status quo. We all love to have multiple tabs open at once, adding more and more as we find new articles to click and sites to visit. Pretty soon, it’s likely we’ve forgotten what we were online for in the first place.
You might say browser tabs are the new litmus test for multitasking.
The more tabs you have open, the more multitasking work you’re doing, and the less likely you are to be as productive as possible. The same goes for anything else that might distract you from your main objective. Working on multiple items at once is a recipe for inefficiency. Fortunately, there are some fun new ways to experiment with the idea of single-tasking—both in your browser and beyond.
Researchers tested 300 Michigan State students on their ability to persevere through interruptions while taking a computer test. The interruptions came in the form of pop-ups that required the students to enter a code. In one case, the interruption lasted a little more than four seconds. In another, the interruption was 2.8 seconds.
With a 2.8-second interruption, the students made double the errors when they returned to the test. With the 4.4-second interruption, the error rate quadrupled.
Experiments like these confirm the mountain of scientific research that points to multitasking as being bad news for productivity, accuracy, and efficiency. . . .
And yet, despite the evidence that doing more than one thing at a time just doesn’t work, we continue to fall victim to doing more and focusing less.
These stats from Statistic Brain paint a picture of just how difficult it is for us to pay attention anymore.
- Average attention span: 8 seconds
- A goldfish’s average attention span: 9 seconds
- Average number of times per hour an office worker checks their inbox: 30 . . .
Single-tasking is one task at a time, zero distractions.
And yes, it is easier said than done. So here are some fun ideas on how to put a little single-tasking into your workday. . . .
1. Try the Pomodoro Technique. Focus on a single task for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break. The times can be adjusted based on your ideal workflows. The idea is to focus as long as your brain will allow, then to rest up with a bit of a lull before starting again.
2. Silence your phone. Or turn it off. Or forget it at home.
3. Close your email.
4. Make a to-do list.
5. Turn off notifications from phone apps and web apps.
6. Watch this entire 3-minute video.
If nothing more, it’ll be a good exercise on focus and patience.
You can read Kevan Lee’s entire article here: