Reduce overwhelm by single-tasking
Have you noticed that the more you try to do, the more overwhelmed you become, and the less focused and productive you are? Well, there’s a really good reason for that…
Our brains simply can’t multitask
And when we try to do so, it can result in cognitive overload leading to us being much less creative, effective, more stressed, more frustrated, etc, etc.
So even though you have the right intentions by trying to achieve as much as possible for yourself and your employer, you are likely limiting your potential, and could even be harming yourself.
You’re also depriving yourself of wonderful moments of flow where you are lost in an activity that you’re great at and enjoy. And the resulting benefits to your wellbeing of increased job satisfaction, improved performance, better stress management, a sense of accomplishment and increased positive emotions.
I’ve noticed that this is a theme with almost all of my clients, who are overachievers, want to be responsive and supportive and have (mostly unrealistic) extremely high expectations of themselves
If you’re anything like my clients who have tried the following small but very effective methods, you’ll notice almost immediate improvements to your efficiency, productivity and satisfaction with your own performance.
Take back control of your day and stop multi-tasking by:
- taking mindful breaks at regular intervals where you don’t multitask amongst making coffee, checking social media, reading the paper, etc. Consider this as another single-tasking activity. It will also refresh your energy and help you be more productive and focused;
- another one to improve energy and focus is to physically move to ‘officially’ close off a task – grab a coffee, stretch or walk around the building;
- turning off your email and any social media alerts, and blocking time to check these only a few times a day – don’t be a slave to others’ priorities;
- reducing your expectation of what you can complete per day to perhaps 3 major tasks;
- reserving blocks of time in your calendar, wearing earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones when in an open office and sharing with your manager and colleagues that you are experimenting with improving your productivity and reducing overwhelm, and if you’re not responding to emails / messages immediately like you did in the past they understand that it’s for a very good reason (and you may even influence others to try this healthy strategy).
And a huge support with really embedding single-tasking is meditating regularly. Over time, this can help to:
- grow grey brain matter in the areas that are linked to attention, cognition, self-awareness, introspection, regulation of emotions and behaviours;
- increase beta activity in the brain, leading to more wakefulness;
- improve learning skills and creativity;
- improve sleep and reduce fatigue;
- lower symptoms of psychological distress.
With my uni deadlines looming in addition to business and family commitments, I’m actively practicing all of the above. I even created hours of flow in the last few days as I was writing my assignment. And at the end of the day I honestly felt so accomplished and proud of my efficiency.
So how about you, what benefits do you think you’ll experience from single-tasking?
And which of the above will you try today?
– And if you’d like my support in letting go of unhealthy and unproductive working habits, and embedding healthy new ways of working, I’d love to hear from you! You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or book your free consultation here.
Kelly is a certified coach with over 20 years of experience, holds the PCC credential from the International Coach Federation and has completed a MSc in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology with distinction. She offers bespoke positive psychology based coaching packages to help ambitious professionals to develop their authentic leadership identity, create more fulfilling careers and implement personalised strategies for optimal wellbeing at work.