“Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.”- Albert Einstein
Few days back, together with my first mate I was carrying out our routine vessel’s inspection. As we were walking along, I decided to test on what Nick Chater, the Professor of Behavioral science at Warwick Business School once said : “No one can do two things at the same time.” I asked my mate – What’s the length of our ship?” Hearing my question, my mate STOPPED WALKING and then gave me the correct answer.
Remember – We both were walking when I asked the question. But when he stopped before answering, proves that the Professor was right. Though the question was a simple one, but to process my question, my mate stopped what he was doing i.e. walking and concentrated on my question before giving me the desired answer. After answering, we continued walking to finish our inspection (You can also try this experiment by asking your colleague a simple question while he is doing some work and see for yourself if he answers without stopping his work or answers while continuing with his work.)
Let’s take one more example – Have you ever seen a video of an olympic player practising. If you have, then you must have noticed that the player at the time of practising, concentrates only at one thing i.e. his practise. No matter how much is his fan following, he never checks his social media notification while practising. He is far away from anything that will lure away his attention. May be that’s the reason why he is an olympic player and we are not.
Now let’s come to our world of smartphones, desktops and laptops with latest applications and games with all notifications to keep us well posted with all our social networks be it facebook, twitter, instagram or what’s app(I am sure, I am missing some apps here). We believe us to be a multitasker but scientific studies have proved that by funneling attention to all the tasks at a time our IQ drops to 10% and productivity reduces to some 30%. Our case is similar to a squirrel who is busy all the time but even forgets where he has kept his loving nut. By the way, studies also prove that multitasking results in short term memory loss too.
You can’t have your two legs on two different boats at the same time, goes an old saying. Multitasking is nothing but switching from one task to another but this ping – pong between our tasks can cost us heavily. The only solution to this problem is to bring back 100% of ourself on a given task, in other words by Monotasking. Below are few methods by which we can enhance our ability to monotask.
Pomodoro Technique: In the late 1980s, to improve productivity Francesco Cirillo developed a time management method called Pomodoro technique in which a timer was used to breakdown the work into intervals of 25 minutes, separated by short breaks. Definition : Each interval of time (traditionally 25 mins) spent working is a Pomodoro. Goal : Reduce the impact of interval and external interrruptions. Steps : Following six steps are used
- Task is decided.
- Pomodoro timer is set (traditionally to 25 minutes).
- Work on task is done without any interruptions.
- Timer rings after 25 minutes and a short break of 3-4 minutes is taken.
- After four pomodoros, a longer break of 15-30 minutes is taken.
- Above steps are repeated again.
(Readers can use Strict Workflow – A Chrome add on in their work station which is a replica of Pomodoro technique.)
Meditation : Second method is a proven method of meditation which can do wonders to recharge your brain as well as help you to achieve mindfullness.
50 count exercise : The third and the last method which I use is just to count from 1 to 50. This counting till 50 will slow you down and will help you to relax and reflect on what is required.
In today’s high tech world what we think, we want is Multitasking but actually what we need is Monotasking. Monotasking not only helps us in our self discipline and self control but when we laser focus on a given task, it decreases room for errors and also increases productivity. Without getting pulled in multiple direction, we focus on what is relevant than irrelevant which then makes us less tired and we finally find ourself to be more happy and ready for the next task.
Thank you for your time reading this blog and if you still have some break time left or may be after your fourth pomodoro, I highly recommend you to listen “Are you Multitasking your life away?”, talk by Cliff Nass at TEDxStanford which will give you a further echo on Monotasking.