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The Ultimate Guide on How to Stop Multitasking to Improve Productivity

attention and memory Aug 30, 2022
how to stop multitasking

Multitasking is something many of us do on a daily basis, whether we’re trying to juggle multiple tasks at work or trying to keep up with our social media notifications. While multitasking may seem like a great way to get more done, it can actually be quite counterproductive.

In fact, studies have shown that multitasking can cause a reduction in productivity, an increase in stress, and difficulty focusing. If you’re looking to break your multitasking habit and focus on one task at a time, here’s the ultimate guide for how to stop multitasking. 

What is Multitasking

Multitasking is the act of working on multiple tasks at once. It can involve switching between tasks rapidly or working on multiple tasks simultaneously. 

Everyday examples of multitasking include:

  • Checking your email while listening to a podcast
  • Cooking dinner while reading a book
  • Having an in-person conversation while sending a text message
  • Scheduling an appointment while browsing social media

Does Multitasking Work?

While multitasking may make you feel more productive, focusing on one task at a time (or monotasking) is actually more efficient. Your brain cannot complete two tasks at one time. If you are, you’re actually task switching.

Task switching is rapidly moving between tasks, which leaves a lot of room for error. Task switching can also distract you from your goals and slow you down, limiting your productivity potential. Not to mention, it’s mentally fatiguing and multitasking can result in poor attention, which leads to poor recall.

Is Anyone actually Good at Multitasking?

At this point in the article, you may be shaking your head and denying that this applies to you.

You might be thinking, “I’m pretty good at multitasking” or “This isn’t true for me.” But studies consistently demonstrate multitasking dampens your ability to effectively and efficiently complete tasks, even if you feel as though you're balancing it well.

The Exception to the Rule 

While completing two or more tasks that require thinking takes a serious toll on your productivity there is one exception to the multitasking rule. You can combine a physical task with a cognitive task efficiently. That means you can move your body and think or listen simultaneously.

Effective examples of dual tasking:

  • Listening to a podcast while you clean your kitchen
  • Listening to music while you go for a run
  • Playing an audio book while you're weeding your garden

In fact, pairing cognitive and physical movement is good for your brain. Aerobic activities like walking while completing a cognitive exercise, like simple math or navigating a maze, can improve functional cognition as you age.

How to Stop Multitasking

Use these tips to break up with multitasking.

1. Create a Daily Schedule: One of the best ways to stop multitasking is to create a daily schedule. Having a plan for when you’ll work on each task and for how long can help you stay focused and prevent you from jumping from one task to the next. Try to stick to the schedule as much as possible and don’t move on to the next task until you’ve completed the one you’re working on.  

2. Take Frequent Breaks: If you’re feeling overwhelmed and find yourself multitasking, take a break. Spend a few minutes away from your desk, take a walk, or do something that helps you relax and clear your head. Taking breaks can help you refocus and get back on track.   

3. Turn Off Notifications: Notifications, whether it’s on your phone or computer, can be a major distraction. If you’re trying to focus, turn off all notifications, so you’re not tempted to check them.   

4. Set a Timer: If you need to focus on a task, set a timer and commit to working on it until the timer goes off. This can help keep you on track and prevent you from multitasking.   

5. Get Enough Sleep: If you’re not getting enough sleep, it can be harder to focus and more tempting to multitask. Make sure to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night to keep your mind sharp and your productivity high.   

6. Minimize Distractions: If you find yourself being easily distracted, try to minimize distractions as much as possible. This could mean turning off the TV, closing your email, or anything else that takes your attention away from the task at hand. 

By following these tips, you should be able to break the habit of multitasking and focus on one task at a time. It may take some time and a lot of practice, but it will be worth it in the end.

The Benefits of Monotasking, or Doing One Thing At a Time

 When you learn how to stop multitasking, you can expect to experience more peace of mind, decreased anxiety and better organization. Ultimately, not multitasking improves your productivity.


The Impact of Multitasking on Your Ability to Remember Information Effectively

Why does a memory health coach care about the impact of multitasking? 

Quite simply, multitasking negatively impacts your memory by dividing your attention and interrupting your focus. I've seen it time and time again with my 1-on-1 clients: multitasking to be "more productive," only to struggle with recalling and communicating information effectively later.

Final Words

Multitasking isn't real; Your brain can't do two things at once. Try the tips listed in this article for how to stop multitasking and you'll see better return on your time, productivity and mental energy.

Questions? Contact Francine Here

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Meet the Coach

Hey there! I'm Francine, a speech-language pathologist turned memory health coach with a passion for helping you overcome your memory problems.

In my practice, I help women just like you trade memory problems for confidence and clarity everyday so you can think clearly and remember easily, without constant self-doubt weighing you down. 

If you're struggling with poor recall and foggy thinking, you're in the right place and I want to help you!


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