This is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned. Focusing on a single task (uni-tasking) leads to concentration. When you’re not concentrating, you’re distracted.
Concentration = focus on a single object or activity (uni-tasking)
Distraction = focus on multiple objects or activities (multi-tasking)
Throughout my career, I multi-tasked and watched many of my colleagues do the same. It seemed perfectly normal to be checking my email, on the phone making travel arrangements, and flipping through a document all at the same time. Or, another common and unhelpful mix, eating lunch at your desk while working.
Even stranger, in some environments or groups, multi-tasking was honored as a valuable way to work. When you step back, you’ve got to wonder what’s valuable about being distracted continuously.
And, when I’m really honest with myself, I felt guilty if I wasn’t multi-tasking. That’s what it seemed everyone else was doing. That’s what seemed to be respected. Whether right or wrong, I interpreted it to be a sign of good performance.
I dare to say now the benefits of uni-tasking far outweigh those of multi-tasking.
These are five important benefits for you to consider.
1. Impacts your quality of life
When you’re concentrating, you’re fully paying attention to the thing or person in front of you. Consider how meaningful it is to treat what’s in front of you with utmost importance. Giving it your undivided attention.
2. Helps you to focus better
Your mental vision is clearer when it’s only got one object in its view. To give you an example, just suppose you had a picture frame just above you on the wall. What’s your experience when there is a single picture vs. a collage in that frame.
3. Saves time
Time seems to be one of the most important things people want more of. When you’re distracted, you waste time in transition and setup time. Further, doing many things at the same time reduces quality which can lead to re-work.
4. Opens the door to greater insight
Being able to concentrate, takes you to a deeper place inside where connections and relationships are more easily seen. The ability to tap into this wisdom can increase the quality of what it is you’re doing.
5. Relieves stress
Imagine what your mind feels like when it’s being tugged in different directions at the same time. Now, think about giving your mind one thing to contemplate and how that feels. Absorbing yourself in one topic bring a sense of ease and relaxation. You may even feel greater openness to new ideas.
So, I challenge you to notice what happens when you choose to uni-task and sense what’s true for you.
Exercise – Measure the value you believe uni-tasking has on a scale from 1 to 10 with 1 being low and 10 being high. For the next week, keep a piece of paper with you where you note times you uni-task. You can write down how you felt and the benefits you experienced. At the end of the week, take time to reflect and assess the value of uni-tasking again using the same scale of 1 to 10.