Stop multitasking and increase your productivity with mindfulness
Multitasking — all that it’s cracked up to be?
In today’s society, it’s become acceptable — nay, impressive — to be a multitasker. Go to any interview and the applicant will boast about their multitasking skills. Why? Because most of us think of multitasking as a necessary and even beneficial part of life. Multitasking has become synonymous with productivity and efficiency.
Multitasking isn’t a scalable skill — you’ll eventually get completely swamped, and contrary to what most people think, it’s actually counter-productive.
Distractions are everywhere
OK, maybe it’s not even multitasking. Maybe it’s a lack of concentration and discipline to make sure we don’t end up distracted. In your next team meeting, observe and see how long it takes for someone to look at their phone, check their emails, or do something that isn’t focusing on the task at hand. It’s a simple fact that people are susceptible to distractions.
According to research from Udemy, chatty coworkers (80%) and office noise (70%) were cited as the top distractors overall. However, Udemy cites that smartphones were the number two distraction amongst the workforce, with millennials and Gen Z being the most likely groups to be distracted. A whopping 74% of them reported being distracted, which in turn made 46% of the group feel unmotivated and for 41% to say it stresses them out.
Where does that leave us? We have purposeful multitaskers and others getting inadvertently distracted.
Not only does this hurt our productivity and our work, but it affects our social lives too. Supposed to be spending quality time with the family or friends but instead, everyone is just on their phone and not interacting? We’ve all been there.
What’s the answer? Well, there’s a few — but today we’re focusing on mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and aware of what we’re doing, where we are and what’s going on around us.
“Isn’t that just meditation?” you ask. Well, you’re not wrong but you’re not right either. Achieving mindfulness goes beyond just meditating, but meditation is often flagged as the most common way of achieving a sense of mindfulness.
Meditating teaches you to let go of those internal distractions and returns your focus to things like your breathing or the sounds around you. In essence, meditation teaches us to be present in the moment and not worry about the past or the future — it’s about what’s happening around you right now. That is, essentially, the goal of mindfulness.
So how does that help me with the bazillion things on my desk that I need to do?
Well, for starters, once you’re used to dealing with your internal distractions — such as worrying about the past — you’re more likely to be able to deal with external distractions too! That means you’re less likely to task switch all the time. Your phone suddenly goes on silent and the endless group chat of memes waits until the end of the day.
By spending a few minutes meditating each day, you’re actually going to save yourself a whole bunch of time by being more focused, aware and ultimately more productive.
Sleep it off
By being able to put your qualms to rest each day with mindfulness, you’re more likely to sleep better. Most of us have been kept awake at night worrying about something — whether it’s that big presentation in the morning or dreading your in-laws coming to visit, we’ve all been there and it leaves us tired, cranky, and unable to concentrate.
Rest is crucial to our productivity. Your brain needs rest and time to process all the info it gathered throughout the day so that it can operate at 100% the next day.
Practicing mindfulness will help you remove your worries and distractions keeping you awake at night, get those vital eight hours and make you more productive the next day.
Focus without distractions
Free yourself from distractions with time trackers like Timespace which allow you to explicitly focus on one task at a time. Concentrating on single tasks gives you the chance to utilize focused thinking and get more done. By compartmentalising your brain, you’re more likely to be able to deeply understand the problem or scenario better than if you’re trying to spin too many plates at once.
Forever switching between tasks kills your creativity
Another benefit of time tracking is that you find out what you spend your time doing and how you waste time. Each of us is guilty of taking too many coffee breaks or watching too many dog videos on YouTube.
By tracking your time, you’ll soon start to see that you have a lot more time for those things you previously dismissed because you were too busy, and now you can simply start and finish your task before moving onto the next one.
Tip: do what works best for you — try working for 50 minutes and then take a 10-minute break. If, during those 50 minutes, you notice that you’re distracted, just gently let go of it and get back to the task at hand. Next time you’ll catch the distractions a bit earlier and after a few times, you’ll notice that you can keep focused for the whole 50 minutes.
If you think that’s too long for you, try the Pomodoro technique which uses a 25/5-minute split.
Ultimately, the time limit isn’t what’s important. When you set the kitchen timer for the Pomodoro technique or tap the focus button in Timespace, you are declaring your intention to focus. Doing so has a subtle psychological effect that helps you to retain that focus.
Still with us?
There we have it — multitasking and distractions are bad for our productivity and health.
Trying a couple of mindfulness techniques and organising your day can really help boost your overall productivity and give you a greater sense of achievement.
Leave multitasking to the Swiss Army knife. Try one thing at a time with Timespace.
Originally published at timespace.co.