Single tasking. What’s the big fuss?

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Wouldn't it be better to do only one thing at a time?

The blogosphere is choc-a-bloc with articles comparing multitasking, with its new age cousin “single-tasking”. I have been tempted for a long time, to just jump into the bandwagon and pour out a pageful of words. And then make a noise about all the social bookmarking websites. But I have resisted so far because ever since I came across this term “single-tasking” (thanks to Leo Babuata of Zen Habits), I have been analyzing it on how I can implement it in my own life. Is it something, that really commands all the attention that it is currently getting?

The journey of that introspection has  truly been an interesting one. Being an Indian, multitasking came naturally to me. As a culture, we try to juggle too many things at the same time, and somehow manage to finish the task at hand. But there’s a catch. We cannot always ensure the job to be ‘well done’ every single time. And the minute someone tries to point out a flaw, we start singing our multitasking anthem.

As I read and explored, I was able to identify the logic behind single tasking and over a period of time, have grown to appreciate it as a concept (of course, only after adapting it in some areas of my life). Single-tasking, has in fact helped me to achieve more, in the same duration of time, that I used to spend multitasking. One of the greatest examples, where I benefited from single tasking is my work.

Earlier, I used to work somewhat like this:

Open Mailbox > start reading emails > Simultaneously open facebook/twitter/Google Reader > flip back and forth between all > also initiate some work task in the middle of all this and try to keep up with everything. I don’t even need to write about what the outcome would be.  🙂 At the end of the day, there was absolutely no sense of achievement at all!

But when I slowly began to incorporate the thoughts about single tasking, my working style has changed and evolved. Now I have allocated some time slots for all activities, and I try to stick to doing “only that one” activity, during that time (some times I slip, but I am only human). And doing this has suddenly thrown more time on my hands, to actually be productive. Example, when I am writing this post. I am not even thinking about an open unix terminal window/my mailbox/facebook/reader, etc. I am only writing this post. Once I finish it/review and publish it, I will close wordpress and get to some other task on my list.

This approach, of compartmentalizing time, is not the most perfect approach in the world, and is still evolving. But it does the job. There are slippages sometimes, like the unexpected meeting request or simply something interesting coming up during a casual chat with a colleague. That’s ok, as long as one remembers to get back on track.

What is your take on the great Single Tasking Vs. Multi Tasking debate? I would love to learn about what the general thought process is about this whole thing.

Do share your fantastic thoughts, by posting a comment.

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