Most of us are incredibly good at multi-tasking; thanks to technology, many of us are even masters at it. And there’s definitely a time and place for multi-tasking in life—it can be a vital requirement for many jobs. However, a case can also be made for slowing down and focusing on just one thing at a time.
Multi-tasking takes away from our ability to focus and do things with 100% of our attention. From a mindfulness perspective, it takes away from our ability to just be in the moment. And socially, it has gotten in the way of our communication skills and our ability to fully connect with others.
So here are a few tips for those who want to get back to the art of single-tasking.
Make a list of your tasks. Start with the top priority and only allow yourself to do one thing at a time, as opposed to going back and forth on multiple items.
Turn off push notifications on your devices
Phone notifications can be addicting because our brains get a release of dopamine each time the screen lights up, which continues the need for stimulation and usually leads to distraction and wasting time. So, simply remove the possibility of it.
Schedule when to check your updates
Make a habit of only checking your phone a specific amount of times a day. If you must check your email at the beginning and end of your day, try to do something else before or after that has a different effect on your brain, such as writing in a notebook. In the morning, take a few minutes to stretch before reaching for your phone; in the evening, try reading a physical book (not on your iPad or Kindle) before bed.
Take breaks from computer time
This can increase your productivity and creativity by allowing your brain to rest (which is when people often find new inspiration). Go for a five-minute walk in fresh air, stretch, focus on your breathing, or look out the window.
Don’t use your phone during downtime
Going on vacation or eating a meal—think about how much more you might enjoy these experiences and reap the relaxation benefits if you’re truly present in the moment. If you want your phone for photos, take a real camera instead. Let your mind truly have a break.
When you’re interacting with others, give them your full attention
You’d be surprised to notice how much better you can communicate and connect.
Of course, multi-tasking is unavoidable (even necessary) in certain parts of our lives. So the best thing we can do is have an awareness of how much we’re doing it, and try to help our brains out by making an effort to focus on one thing at a time when possible. Our brains will be thankful for it.