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Concentrate on a single task

I posted on single task vs multi-task once here. This is a continuation. Just sharing.

Concentrating on a single task, is perhaps one of the greatest obstcales we face today, with so much technology and so many distractions. We're listening to a video on Youtube while writing an email when suddenly a chat prompt pops up and we answer it. Just as soon as we respond to that message, we're back at our computer, logging on to Facebook.

Pretty soon thirty minutes have passed and we've forgotten what the email we were writing was supposed to be about.

This also happens sometimes when put on a movie with dinner and don't realize how delicious the salmon was until we're taking the last bite.

We often think that combining tasks will save us time but scientic evidence shows that it has the opposite effect. Even those who claim to be good at multitasking are not very productive. In fact, they are some of the least productive people.

Our brains can take in millions of bits of information but can only actually process a few dozen per second. When we say we're multitasking, what we're really doing is switching back and forth between tasks very quickly. Unfortunately, we're not computers adept at parallel processing. We end up spening all our energy alternating between tasks, instead of focusing on doing one of them well.

Concentrating on one thing at a time may be the single most important factor in achieving flow.

Technology is great, if we're in control of it. It's not so great if it takes control of us. For example, if you have to write a research paper, you might sit down at your computer and use Google to look up the information you need. However, if you're not very disciplined, you might end up surfing the Web instead of writing that paper. In that case, Google and the Internet will have taken over, pulling you out of your state of flow.

It has been scientifically shown that if we continually ask our brains to switch back and forth between tasks, we waste time, make more mistakes, and remember less of what we've done.

Extracts from the book: Ikigai, The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life.

Comments

Nancy Chan said…
Interesting post. There is so many things that need to be done and most of the time we have no choice but to multi task. I would love to take my time to focus on one job at a time but with other things demanding my attention, I can't help but to multi task.
Twilight Man said…
I find the author of this book is a bit illogical. Most Japanese today are deeply into unhealthy multitasking and holds 3-4 jobs to survive. The suicide rates are getting higher now esp in Tokyo. However I agree that we should be focused and mindful always. I don't look at my phone or TV when I am eating lunch and dinner. Good boy.
mun said…
Thank you for sharing. But very boring la to just sit there eating so I always surf net while I chew my food slowly.
Libby said…
Nancy, TM, mun: I also cannot single task as I prefer variety, I find it boring and restless to focus on one thing.
Tekkaus said…
I have too much on my plate...so I have no choice but to multitask. Doing one thing at a time might actually derail my whole other plans...

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