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Quit Multi Tasking Before It’s Too Late

Quit Multi Tasking Before It’s Too Late

When you’ve got a full schedule, multitasking looks like a good way to free up time. Almost everybody does it. Kids eat while watching TV or playing on an iPad. Adults simultaneously text and surf the internet. Walk down any city street, and you’ll see people attempting to walk and use their smartphones at the same time.

Multitasking has become the norm. We even pride ourselves on how many things we can do at once. The more tasks we can juggle, the more valuable we feel we are to our companies, families, and friends. This may be flawed logic, however.

When you think back on your experiences with multitasking, did you really accomplish more? Our obsession with multitasking confirms our love of productivity, but the quality of our work may tell a different story.

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Multitasking is a habit, not an art form

Nothing beats wrapping up a day of work with a cleared checklist. It feels good to accomplish so much at once. Multi-tasking has become a habit for most of us. It’s expected of us, and we don’t think twice about tackling several projects at once.

Habits are made of three parts: a cue, a routine, and a reward.[1] The cue prompts us to do something, the routine is the behavior acted out, and the reward is the payoff that we get from the routine. Habits are hard to break because when you successfully complete your routine, your brain releases a feel-good neurotransmitter called dopamine.

According to some studies, our brains release lots of dopamine when we’re multitasking. Your brain rewards you more when you multitask because you are fulfilling more routines at the same time.[2] All that dopamine–and the feelings of satisfaction that come along with it–trick you into thinking you’re great at multitasking. This is why the habit is so hard to break.

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More isn’t necessarily better

The “more is better” mentality is a myth in need of busting. Research has proven that multi-tasking isn’t good for us, and we aren’t as good at it as we think. Your brain is simply not built to focus on multiple things at the same time.[3]

When you’re faced with doing two things at once, it’s not possible for you to focus completely on both items. Instead, your brain rapidly switches between the two tasks, which creates the illusion that you’re 100% invested in two activities at the same time.

When your mind has to juggle, it can’t be as effective as when you give your undivided attention. It takes longer to do things because you’re constantly interrupting yourself. You’ll make more errors because every time your brain switches tasks you have to refocus. You’ll also feel more stressed as you flip between jobs.[4]

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Switching back and forth affects your memory and the quality of your work. Sure, more items are completed at the end of a day of multitasking, but have you had the chance to think about them with sufficient depth?

I’m sorry to break it to you, but if you want to do your best work, it’s time to break the multi-tasking habit and focus on doing one thing at a time.

Monotasking gets better results

It may sound counter-intuitive to switch from doing several things at the same time to limiting yourself to one task. Monotasking, or doing only one thing, is better for us, and it improves work outputs.

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We have to retrain our brains to make single-tasking a habit. By devoting your full attention to one task, you can maintain focus for longer, work with more depth, and produce higher-quality work.

Research shows that when you make a conscious effort to refocus a wandering mind, you increase your ability to control your attention. Just like you can develop muscle memory to make some jobs seem second nature to you, you can harness the power that your prefrontal cortex has over your limbic system. Your focus and memory improves, and you have better control over your mind.

Easy tips to build your monotasking muscle

  • Open one tab at a time. How often do you have 15-20 items open on your computer screen at once? Limit yourself to having one tab open. This keeps you from being tempted to flip between tabs and lose concentration.
  • Start small. Making drastic changes to your lifestyle can leave you feeling frustrated. Take small steps to make mindfulness a natural part of your day. At mealtimes, for example, clear away all other distractions. When you’re in a meeting, turn your phone off and put it away. These minor changes add up to days filled with more focus.
  • Set your priorities. You might have a mile-long list of things that need your attention, but you have to be realistic about what you can accomplish. Think about what is most important, and when you work best so that you can still be productive without sacrificing quality.[5]
  • Curb your excesses. Most of us have too much stuff cluttering our lives. Think about what you need to complete the task in front of you, and put everything else away. Resist the urge to over-commit by saying “yes” to too many things and having all your projects out at once. When you are working on something, everything else should be put aside.
  • Let people know what you’re doing. If your colleagues are used to you dropping everything to put out the latest fire, they may be shocked to find that you are prioritizing your schedule in a new way. They’ll be more likely to respect and support your efforts if they know what you’re trying to do.[6]

All these tips help you rein in your wandering mind. Each time you are able to stop distraction and refocus, you build your attention muscle. The more control you have over paying attention, the less you’ll be distracted. Eventually, focus will become your new habit.

Single tasking is the next big thing

It’s time to ditch the multitasking myth we’ve been sold for years. We humans aren’t as good at multitasking as we think. This habit robs us of our focus and the opportunity to do profound work.

If the idea of totally changing your workflow seems overwhelming, try a few of the tips in this article to get started. After you feel what it’s like to devote your energy to one thing at a time, you’ll be able to make monotasking a habit.

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually)

What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually)

It’s Monday again… The annoying alarm breaks the piece of silence you are enjoying. You keep pressing snooze and don’t want to leave your bed. As the hour hand points to 8, every muscle in your body feels sore.

You arrive your office and turn on the computer at your seat. Everything seems so normal, except your mind wanders… you’re feeling bored at work…

If this sounds familiar to you, chances are you feel bored at work, and you are probably here to look for ways to get rid of this dreadful situation.

In this article, I’ll look into why you may feel bored at work, the little-known consequence of it and what to do when bored at work.

The Real Reason Why You’re Bored at Work

Boredom reveals the potential problems you have at work:

Your interest and your work don’t match.

It’s very common that our work doesn’t match our interest, but we might not realize it sometimes. It’s good for you to think about why you applied for this job and why you started your job at the first place:

Because the salary was attractive? Or you had no other options but this job interview? Or you just wanted a new environment?

If these are your major concerns, you need to reconsider your interests in this job.

You’re not using your capabilities fully.

Everyone has their strengths and talents. When your capabilities are not fully utilized at your job, you may find the assigned tasks not challenging at all.

Worse still, you may start to question your value in your company and gradually lose motivation at work.

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You have little opportunity for growth and learning.

Imagine you do the same tasks for two weeks, or two months, or two years, over and over. How would you feel? I’m sure you’ll be bored to death.

If your company doesn’t provide enough opportunities to grow and learn, and you can’t see any improvement, you will start to get disappointed and probably feel bored at your job.

You have too much idle time.

It’s important to take breaks at work. But when you are too free, it is a problem.

When you have too much idle time, your mind wanders off to somewhere else:

Thinking about where to eat, your relationship problems, or what your neighbor said this morning.

Although your mind is occupied, these thoughts are generated because you are bored.

You feel exhausted and tired.

You have so many goals to achieve in life or things to manage beyond work. It’s easy to shift your attention and energy away from your work because you are too occupied with other parts of your life.

While you pay less effort at work, the less motivated and interested you are in your job, which in turn bores you even more.

You have no clear goal.

People who have stayed in a position for a long time easily feel lost.

You start to get confused with what you want to obtain from the job. You get used to your repeating daily routine and gradually lose your passion and interests in your job.

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The Little-Known Consequences of Ignoring Your Boredom

You might think it’s okay to deal with your boredom later, but the longer you put this problem on hold, the more consequences you will face.

Don’t ignore your boredom, it might take a toll on you!

Increased stress

A number of readers of Stress Relief Workshop commented:[1]

  • Boring jobs can be really stressful.
  • Feeling like your skills are going to waste in your current job can be stressful.

Developing bad habits

Experts reckon people relieve their boredom by drinking alcohol, indulging in unhealthy food, or carrying out risky actions at work.

When you leave your problem unsolved, you might find stimulation elsewhere to override your boredom.

Poor mental health

A study[2] shows an upsetting fact young adults or fresh graduates may develop depressions or black moods, because they:

“find themselves having to do work that doesn’t stretch them and keep them fulfilled.”

Low productivity

Like I mentioned before, when you are bored and uninterested in what you do, your productivity drops drastically.

6 Things to Do When You’re Bored at Work

Boredom won’t go away unless you take actions.

So how to cure boredom? Fortunately there are ways you can change the situation:

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1. Tell your boss or supervisor about your working situation

It’s always good for you to talk to your boss or supervisor if they welcome feedback. They should be the right people to talk to as they can understand and help you.

You can request for more challenging tasks or work that fit your interests. This can not only get you out from boredom, your boss will also appreciate your willingness to improve and learn.

2. Try to do more than you are expected to

To use your ability and time fully, try to do more than what your boss requires. After you finish the repetitive or unchallenging tasks, spend some time to take on tasks that are beyond your responsibilities.

As time goes by, your boss will notice and recognize your work ethic. You may get interesting tasks in the future to keep you going!

3. Learn new skills when you are free

If you have too much downtime, expand your knowledge and learn something new. A well-equipped person is always the gem in a boss’ eyes.

For example, if you work in the design team but are not familiar with the use of design software, it’s a good chance for you to have some self-learning time.

4. Know what you want from your job

This is important — when you know your goal, it can motivate you to work!

It’s fine to take some time to discover your goal and passion. But please remember to jot it down on a note and stick it on your desk as a reminder.

You may also consider some career advice if you need help.

5. Take breaks to fight exhaustion

Taking rest is a preparatory step for a longer journey ahead. Don’t ever hesitate to take a break. You need it!

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It’s crucial for you if you want to achieve more. Just get back to work when you feel ready. Don’t underestimate the power of a short break!

6. Quit your job if it’s holding you back

If you still find your work boring after trying every single method above, you should consider quitting your current job.

Opportunities are everywhere, there may be a better job waiting for you.

Make a change in your life and treat yourself better!

Final Thoughts

When you feel bored at work, it’s actually a warning sign you shouldn’t overlook. It could mean you’re missing a purpose in life.

If you let this boredom continue, you’re putting your mental health and happiness at stake.

Stop doing the same thing every day and let yourself feel bored. Start making a change to make yourself feel enthusiastic again about your career and your life.

Featured photo credit: officevibe via officevibe.com

Reference

[1] Life Stress Balls: Stress at work
[2] Sunday Post: Being bored at work is bad for your health

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