Pros and Cons of Monotasking
18 min read
Single-tasking, also known as monotasking, refers to concentrating on a single task at a time without being distracted. More precisely, monotasking is the technique of devoting oneself to a certain work and minimizing potential interruptions until the activity is accomplished or a sufficient period has elapsed.
According to current studies, just 2% to 2.5 % of the population can properly multitask. We can conclude from this that the ordinary human brain is better adapted to single-tasking. However, single-tasking, because your brain is wired that way, because your brain is wired that way, is not the sole reason to do it.
Concentrating on a single job can be helpful to your health and productivity. Monotasking, on the other hand, may not be successful in certain situations and may even impede work progress. In this post, we will look at the pros and cons of monotasking, as well as briefly address the concept of focused monotasking.
Pros of Monotasking
Single-tasking offers numerous benefits that cannot be overstated. Nevertheless, some people find it difficult to embrace the idea that it is preferable to complete tasks in order rather than jumping from one to the next. Only the most important jobs, those with looming deadlines or those that have been planned, compel these people to multitask.
Multitasking is typically listed as a favorable attribute on resumes. Many companies encourage employees to multitask to enhance productivity. However, academics have begun to prove that monotasking is the optimal way to complete a job, and people are beginning to recognize its value.
The strain on our brains is enormous when we constantly switch between different things when multitasking. Sandra Bond Chapman, chief director of the Center for BrainHealth, points out in a Forbes article that cultures that place a high priority on multitasking, including the bulk of today's workplaces, promote a narrative that could be harmful.
Here are nine pros of monotasking that you should be aware of.
It is important to understand that when you multitask, you are not truly doing numerous tasks at the same time. Instead, your brain is swiftly switching attention between each of the actions you are performing sequentially. In the business world, this is referred to as "task-switching," and it is the death of productivity.
Even though each of these episodes lasts only a fraction of a second, research has shown that they can reduce productivity by as much as 40%. In other words, doing one thing at a time enhances your productivity.
Some people, for example, watch movies while also reading at the same time in the same place. Others may attempt to use their phones while behind the wheel. Even though it appears to be possible to combine such operations, this multitasking action results in decreased productivity for both actions.
As a result, several companies prohibit their employees from arriving at work with mobile phones, laptops, or any other electronic gadgets that may cause them to become distracted from their jobs.
Faster task completion
Single-tasking enables us to focus on a single task at a time. According to this Huffington Post article, concentrating on one task at a time enables you to finish it more quickly and effectively.
Monotasking can be done even when you have many tasks to complete.
Deep work entails the ability to work uninterrupted for a lengthy amount of time to push your cognitive capacities to their maximum. By definition, when you engage in deep work, you are monotasking and concentrating exclusively on a particular project.
Cal Newport, the author of Deep Work, demonstrates how we might incorporate deep work into our daily lives. Your thoughts will begin to flow more effortlessly, and you will be able to focus exclusively on the quality of your work.
By monotasking, you may concentrate on your ability to work intently and rapidly to produce your best results. This can result in a rise in self-esteem and recognition among your peers.
Multitasking depletes your energy reserves. In addition to lowering the amount of glucose available to your brain cells, it harms your physical health. As a result of shifting your attention from one task to another, your brain is forced to work harder since it must take time to absorb several pieces of information at the same time.
According to research, it takes us 20 minutes to regain our concentration after being distracted. Consider how long it would take to finish a task if you had to spend so much time just trying to stay focused. This is one of the reasons why multitasking makes you feel exhausted.
Monotasking helps you to focus all of your energy on a single task at the same time.
Concentrating on a single task (monotasking) for an extended time ensures that your full attention is committed to it until it is completed. Furthermore, you will be able to do your activity much more quickly and without any interruptions.
Improved work quality
Switching between tasks frequently overloads the brain and decreases productivity. It's a recipe for failure in which your thoughts are at surface level, and blunders occur more frequently.
In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology in 2014, researchers showed that interruptions of just 2 to 3 seconds increased the number of errors made by participants on an assigned task. When you focus just on one task at a time, you're more likely to complete it correctly because you'll be paying much closer attention to the details.
A similar study reported that forced interruptions at times of higher mental burden are more disruptive than forced interruptions at times of lower mental workload. This means that when you are interrupted when monotasking, your brain will be less affected as a result.
Monotasking is healthier
Many people take pride in their presumed ability to multitask, and this is something they are proud of. In reality, this ability is merely perception: dopamine, the feel-good hormone, is released whenever we complete little tasks, and as a result, we are more likely to switch from one task to another to receive that small hit of happiness and gratification.
At best, we are deceived into believing that we are being more productive as a result of this. As a worst-case scenario, it creates an addictive feedback loop, which sets us up for future difficulties. Multitasking has been linked to the release of stress hormones and adrenaline, which can impair short-term memory and cause health problems over time, according to research.
Stress hormones are released in smaller quantities when you are monotasking. In other words, you will be more relaxed while carrying out your duties. It is possible to work in a more relaxed manner, at your own pace, and thus alleviate unwanted mental and physical pressures that come with time-limited tasks.
Monotasking ensures dedicated prioritization
If you only have one task to perform at a time, that task is automatically prioritized because there are no other tasks for you to complete at the same time as it.
Monotasking, on the other hand, can assist you in prioritizing your duties if you have multiple things to do. Because you are only allowed to execute one task, you must choose the one that is the most important or that must be finished.
This means that you will have fewer distractions, will be able to devote all of your attention to a single activity, and will have less stress. Finally, you will have completed a project that was efficient and error-free, as well as provided inside the specified deadline.
Cons of Monotasking
While there are several advantages of monotasking, it is important to be aware that there are indeed cons to being a serial disciple of monotasking. These drawbacks have a wide range of real-world ramifications that can have an impact on our job, pleasure, and relationships, to name a few examples. Here are six cons of monotasking you should know about.
Monotasking breeds weak resilience
Monotasking has been shown to hurt our resilience threshold.
Trying to juggle multiple tasks at the same time can be frustrating. At the same time, if you are repeatedly exposed to high levels of stress, you will learn to increase your general level of resilience, which will make you more capable of dealing with stress in the long run.
Monotasking, on the other hand, is a work style that has been demonstrated to lessen stress at the workplace. This pampers our mind and body, resulting in more relaxed attitudes at work. Following this, being exposed to difficult jobs may become difficult for you to handle because your overall level of tenacity has been diminished as a result of your monotasking.
A lack of resilience has been linked to people quitting their employment after only a few days on the job.
While working on a single task, you may become bored.
If you only work on a single assignment and then have to wait for feedback from your employer, you will likely become bored, especially if you have to wait for a long period.
It may even seem like a waste of time to be at work at all at certain points in the day.
Your job begins to follow a predictable pattern. Even before you leave for work, you are aware of what is going to happen each day.
As a result, if you are a person who becomes easily bored and if you have an excess amount of downtime on a routine basis, this may harm your psychological well-being. Some people may use the expression "bored to death" to describe their feelings.
You may have to multitask to prevent becoming bored.
Difficulty with beating deadlines
Yes, this can also occur with monotasking.
If you have a hard deadline at work and must perform multiple different tasks to meet that deadline, monotasking is unlikely to be productive because you will not be able to complete your work on time.
Monotasking at work can be frustrating because you may have to wait for feedback on one activity instead of using this time more productively if you have other duties that must be completed quickly.
This is true not only for your job but also for many other aspects of your life.
For example, if you are a student with an upcoming exam, you may have a serious time constraint and will need to make the most efficient use of your time to get top grades. Multitasking can be beneficial in this case.
The ability to focus solely on one task is inconvenient in certain professions. Having a boss that only does one thing at a time might result in a firm that is unproductive, unfocused, and rife with discontent.
If you are only good at monotasking, you will probably not be able to lead a company. When you're in charge of a company, you're likely to be dealing with several challenges at once. These concerns can arise in various ways.
In the workplace, employees are unhappy with their work, pay, and position. In some circumstances, clients will be dissatisfied with the level of service they receive.
You must learn how to multitask to deal with all of these issues regularly if you are in a position of authority in your company.
Monotasking allows you to remain concentrated on a single task at a time. Over a lengthy period, you may become accustomed to only taking on one at a given time.
Having a timetable that is so tight can make it difficult to adjust to new tasks as they arise. Due to the continuously changing nature of our present environment, being able to adapt to new situations and responsibilities is essential. What was valuable to your clients a few years ago may not be useful to them today.
To be successful in life, you must always be able to adjust to new situations. Multitasking can be very useful in this regard.
Monotasking requires discipline
Monotasking necessitates a great deal of self-discipline. Nowadays, it might be exceedingly difficult to keep one's attention away from distractions. A ringing phone, a crying child, or even your spouse engaging you in a discussion may be enough to get you away from your computer. This distraction can make you error-prone and affect your quality of work.
You'll also need the discipline to stay at one job at a time, even if you're offered additional opportunities that may be more enticing or lucrative in the short term. When it comes to working attitudes, monotasking can be tough to sustain across a variety of job kinds and environments.
Tips for monotasking
Completing one task without a plan, on the other hand, is a recipe for disaster. The use of smart planning techniques such as batching tasks allows you to save time while also increasing the number of jobs performed at one time. This is because it prevents your brain from splitting its efforts between multiple projects at the same time.
You will also need to eliminate distractions from your workspace and set time restrictions for your workdays. Working away from home, regulating ambient lighting, and maintaining a pleasant room temperature are all examples of methods for removing distractions.
Additionally, you should consider working with a virtual accountability partner at Pipewing. It makes focused monotasking much easier and more productive. Working silently in tandem in 50-minute sprints has proven to be very effective.
Pipewing sprints are completed in groups of two. During the first minute, you and your partner discuss your sprint goal and how to achieve it.
Then you both work in quiet while holding each other accountable during the sprint. This method is quite simple, and it can be carried out from any location at any time.
There are several pros and cons of monotasking. More often than not, it is advantageous to use monotasking techniques. It will help you to maintain your long-term productivity and health.