The benefits of “uni-tasking”

I’ve been meaning to mention an article I read recently in the Harvard Business Review, called How (and Why) to Stop Multitasking. It’s by Peter Bregman, and it explains, as the title suggests, how and why he stopped multitasking and started paying attention to one thing at a time (what I’ve called “uni-tasking”).

Bregman lists some of the benefits he experienced, and I’ve summarized those below (but do go and read the full article, which expands on these points).

  1. He found life more enjoyable, especially when it came to spending time with his children. And he noticed the simple beauties of life.
  2. He found that he could concentrate better and made significant progress in tasks that required high-level cognitive processing.
  3. He was more relaxed.
  4. He no longer wished to waste time.
  5. He had more patience and felt less rushed.
  6. And lastly, “there was no downside.”

He also includes a bunch of links to some cool research. For example, he points out that our productivity goes down by as much as 40% when we multitask. Multitaskers think they’re being more efficient, but they’re not. I’d compare this perceptual disconnect to drunk driving. People who drink drive badly — but their intoxication often prevents them from recognizing this, to the point where some people believe they drive better drunk than sober! I think multitasking prevents us from seeing that multitasking is an ineffective strategy.

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