By Helen Sullivan, APR, Fellow PRSA
I almost walked into a tree while reading a newspaper article on my iPhone at night when I was walking my dog recently. The dangers of multitasking are great and I could provide tons of emergency room stats about texting accidents (while driving, of course, but also walking into things, tripping, etc.) but today I’m focused on diminished productivity at work and multitasking rather than physical risk. In the workplace, the monotasking movement is gaining momentum.
I am not including any relevant links in this blog post until the end because you might click on the link and leave me. I want your full attention. Monotasking is about giving someone or some project your undivided focus. Research has found that interruptions of only two to three seconds resulted in double the errors made by study participants. Multitasking diminishes cognitive control. I’m purposely keeping this blog short, but did you read it all the way through—or take a call, read the subject line of an email, or sip a cup of coffee while reading? For those who boast about their ability to multitask, you might want to reconsider.
For 2018, multitasking is out and monotasking (also referred to as unitasking or singletasking) is in. Do you think you are an effective multitasker? in this short video, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, chief medical correspondent for CNN, explains why the ability to successfully multitask is a myth. Monotasking may be be one of my New Year’s resolutions that might be hardest to keep, but I’m going to try!
More on the benefits of monotasking here:
- Media Multitaskers Pay Mental Price, Stanford Study Shows (Stanford News)
- Read this Story Without Distraction, Can You? (New York Times)
- Monotasking is the New Multitasking (Fast Company)
- The Magic of Monotasking (Huffington Post)
Helen Sullivan, APR, Fellow PRSA, is IPI’s communications counsel.