In this age of distractions and interruptions, where time is such a valuable asset, we erroneously place a high value on multitasking. The perception is that the more you can do simultaneously, the more intelligent and efficient you are. In fact, multitasking or juggling multiple tasks at one time has become the norm.
A classic 2007 study of Microsoft workers found that when they responded to email or instant messaging alerts, it took them, on average, nearly 10-15 minutes to get back to their original tasks.
Many recent studies have proven the downside of multitasking. Multitasking is a brain drain that exhausts the mind, because your brain is not designed to work on multiple initiatives at one time. Instead, it toggles back and forth from one task to the next. Frequently switching between tasks overloads the brain and makes you less efficient.
One study conducted at Stanford University revealed that people who multitask are more easily distracted, less productive, have more trouble recalling information, and make more errors.
If you want to work better (and smarter), you should embrace monotasking by employing the following strategies:
List your top two priorities for the day.
Identify your top two priorities for the day and make sure you accomplish them during your brain's prime time. The emphasis is on being mindful of focusing only on the work you’re doing at any moment and getting things done sequentially.
Focus deeply, without distraction.
Prioritizing and focusing on a specific task will increase the perception of its significance. In the words of Boone Pickens, "When you are hunting elephants, don't get distracted chasing rabbits." Silence your phone, turn off your email and try to perform just one task at a time.
Give your brain some down time.
You will be more productive if, several times a day, you give yourself timed breaks from mentally challenging tasks for short periods of time.
Even with a million things to do on the agenda, monotasking is a proven way to produce higher quality work. After all, it's not how much you do that matters, but rather how well you do it.