Checking things off your to-do list three at a time has always been something you could boast about during job interviews. Times are changing and with the growing interest in meditation and mindfulness, there’s a new time-management skill to master. It’s called monotasking, a form of mindfulness meditation.
Instead of jumping around from one task to another, monotasking is about focusing on and completing one at a time. “It’s bringing complete focus to a single task and trying to eliminate distractions that may cause your attention to drift away from the task you’re working on,” explains Kate Lombardo, a positive psychology practitioner. The task could be something as big as a work presentation or as small a text message. In modern day society, this may seem out of the ordinary and just plain wrong, but monotasking has tons of benefits that multitasking lacks. People who are multitaskers are thought of as hard workers, efficient and successful. However, this isn’t necessarily the case.
“Experts are finding that people are actually less efficient and prone to making more mistakes while multitasking,” explains life coach Sandra Kay. “When you monotask, the quality of each task will increase, you’ll complete each task more efficiently and you’ll retain more information.”
Think about it, if you’re working on a project and then stop to read emails, you’ve lost your place and flow within that project. You then have to get back in the right mindset and catch yourself up from where you left off, wasting extra time. Chances are, you’ll probably just skim through what you’ve done, which is where mistakes are made and information is forgotten. On the other hand, if you push through the project, you’ll be fully aware of what is needed from you and there will be an evident consistency. When it’s done, you can cross if off your to do list without having to come back to it ever again. As Lombardo puts it, “It creates a feeling of accomplishment and moves people into a state of flow.”
Besides a better quality of work, monotasking also has multiple health benefits. While multitasking is a recipe for stress and anxiety, monotasking, because it’s a form of mindfulness meditation, will lower you’re stress levels, increase your memory and help you sleep better. And today, who couldn’t use a little more sleep and a little less stress?
Along with physical health, your overall wellbeing will also improve. “Monotasking helps us to concentrate on the task at hand and address how it make us feel,” says Lombardo. “By doing that, we become more aware of the things that are healthy and beneficial to us and let go of things that weigh us down.” This idea of being present will allow you to fully engage, embrace and analyze one moment at a time, the way juggling multiple things cannot. Simply put, it’s a great way to discover your truest, happiest self.
As appealing as this all may sound, you could be thinking to yourself there’s just no way you can do it, you have too much to do and too little time. Lombardo recommends starting out with something small and unimportant like commuting. Rather than walking while listening to music or checking out your phone, take time to look around and see what you notice. This act allows you to embrace the one task without any real consequences.
Once you’re able to get past the fear of having an overwhelming schedule, there’s also a willpower that’s needed to succeed in monotasking. Kay recommends setting up boundaries for yourself to minimize outside temptations. For example, putting your phone away when you’re out with friends, turning off instant messaging services when working on your computer and even scheduling specific times to check social media.
“The key with monotasking is giving yourself permission to be human, which means permission to be imperfect,” says Lombardo. “It’s not easy but it gets easier over time.” Look at the bright side, if you finished this without clicking on anything else or picking up your phone, you’ve already begun.
What’s your first step towards mastering the art of monotasking?