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Make a Habit of Single-Tasking not Multitasking


In The Six Lies Between You and Success, as outlined in Gary Keller's book The One Thing, multitasking is the second lie of the six. He concludes that:

  • Distraction is natural

  • Multitasking takes its toll on you

  • Distraction undermines results

Keller's advice is to focus on the one important thing, and that multitasking is detrimental to this goal. David Levitin, an American-Canadian cognitive psychologist, neuroscientist, and author, said, "What it turns out is that we think we're multitasking, but we're not. The brain is sequential tasking: we flit from one thought to the next very, very rapidly, giving us the illusion that what we're doing is doing all these things at once."


He continues, "Multitasking creates a dopamine-addiction feedback loop, effectively rewarding the brain for losing focus and constantly searching for external stimulation." These two experts clearly state that multitasking is not how to become more productive.

Multitasking is a by-product of distraction and generally inhibits productivity.


Productivity is about accomplishment, not about how busy or efficient we are. Busyness can make us feel we are being productive when in fact, we are feeling the dopamine effect.


The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey supports the view that multitasking is ineffective and inefficient for accomplishing goals. He uses the term single-tasking and challenges people to pursue the habit of focusing on one thing at a time. As distractions are natural and lead to multitasking, Bailey promotes the idea of getting out of the practice of multitasking and into the habit of single-tasking. He suggests we devote short periods to actively focusing on a specific task or activity and gradually increase the time spent.

By spending and focusing our time on one activity, we accomplish more in a shorter period because interruptions and diversions waste time. Combining single-tasking with a focus on essential activities and goals, we become more productive and experience greater satisfaction with our daily outcomes.


What is the one thing you going to focus on? By asking yourself this question daily and ensuring you spend sufficient time on it, you are on the road to making single-tasking a productive habit in your work life.


Paul Abra, Certified Executive Coach, Motivated Coaching and Development

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