Make Single-Tasking Your #1

Studies show that focusing and immersing yourself in one task at a time is the answer to boosting your productivity, increasing accuracy and improving your brain on a biological level.


Psychologists and neurology experts call it “single-tasking” and research shows that it is better for your brain, and the outcomes of your projects, than multi-tasking. Sandra Bond Chapman, Ph.D., founder and director of Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas, Dallas describes multi-tasking as “toxic” to your brain. Dr Chapman states, “Multitasking is a brain drain that exhausts the mind, zaps cognitive resources and, if left unchecked, condemns us to early mental decline and decreased sharpness.”

Chapman emphasises that chronic multi-taskers have, “increased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which can damage the memory region of the brain.” Why? Because technically we’re not multi-tasking but rather “switch-tasking” as our brains can’t do tasks simultaneously – like driving and talking on the phone – we just switch from one task to the other and back again, or onto something else. Our brains like the “Alt-tab” function as much as we do.

Do you, right now, feel like you just can’t focus on one thing? How many tabs on your browser are open? How many projects and tasks are you working on? How long is today’s to-do list? And have you yet crossed off anything on that list? Are you feeling overloaded or tense?

One clever productivity “hack” to better single-tasking is setting a timer for a 20-30 minute block to work on just one thing and not allowing distractions to creep in. Then take a quick 2 minute break to look out the window, grab a drink or do a quick stretch. Come back to the task if it’s not yet finished, set the timer again and repeat the process until you’re done.

It could be argued that choosing to do one thing really well is the opposite of doing a second-rate job of many things! So give it a go and let us know if it works for you!