Single-Tasking is the Answer for Improved Productivity

Would you like to get more done in less time? Then quit multitasking!

©2011 Corrina Sephora, Hull Trilogy (dtl). Mixed media. Used with permission.

©2011 Corrina Sephora, Hull Trilogy (dtl). Mixed media. Used with permission.

Multitasking is working on diverse tasks simultaneously and, usually, doing them all half-heartedly: driving and talking on the phone; attending a webinar and responding to email; or writing a blog post and texting.

Research shows that only about 2.5 percent of college students can multitask effectively — 2.5 percent!

Studies now show that multitasking is a myth. You simply can’t give your attention to more than one thing at a time.

Health magazine gives 12 reasons to kick the habit, including the insight that multitasking dampens your creativity: “multitaskers often find it harder to daydream and generate spontaneous aha moments.”

Kick the Habit

To embrace single-tasking, take the first step and turn off your electronic notifications, which means no messages telling you that you have messages.

Let’s face it. You’re probably not sitting around doing nothing when your inbox beeps. You’re likely working on something else when the interruption occurs.

When you stop in the middle of something to look at an incoming email, you’re saying that whatever is in that email is a priority. This is rarely the case.

Responding to electronic interruptions is giving away your power and is the ultimate form of procrastination in contemporary life.

If you’re working on your business or enjoying your personal relationships, there is no reason to interrupt the moment. Almost everything except true emergencies can wait until you have completed what you are working on.

Embrace Single-Tasking

©2014 Lisa Jennings, New Day Dawning. Acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 48 x 38 inches. Collection of Al Gore. Used with permission.

©2014 Lisa Jennings, New Day Dawning. Acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 48 x 38 inches. Collection of Al Gore. Used with permission.

Close down the windows on your computer that you’re not focused on, move cell phones out of reach and stop the multitasking. Concentrate on one task at a time.

Single-tasking is a commitment that takes practice, which means most people can’t go cold turkey. You will improve over time.

Use a timer or a structured focusing tool such as the Pomodoro Technique to keep your eyes and head on your priorities.

Feel free to adopt one of my mantras if you find yourself flitting from this to that and screen to screen:

I do one thing at a time to completion.

Single-tasking is key for a higher level of productivity and a lower level of overwhelm.

Be More Productive

The above article is a preview of my Organize Your Art Biz Class, where I show you how to get rid of paper and electronic clutter while systematizing your art business.

Join us! Organize Your Art Biz begins Dec. 3.


Alyson Stanfield is an artist advocate and business mentor at ArtBizCoach.com. This article was originally published in her Art Biz Insider, which is sent weekly to thousands of artists who are elevating their businesses. Start your subscription now and get Alyson’s 6 free art-marketing video lessons at artbizcoach.com

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