Switching to Single-Tasking from Multitasking

To make the switch to an easier and better way of doing things, gradually start to switch from to single-tasking to multitasking, to the extent that it is possible in your day.  sRather than switch between tasks often, to push each task forward incrementally, try and begin focusing on initiating a single task and working on that single task until it is finished or you take it to a point where you need input or feedback from someone else.

This is Part 2 of a three part series discussing why single-tasking is easier and better than multitasking, what it feels like to switch to single-tasking from multitasking, and how to resist the temptations of multitasking to stick with single-tasking once you’ve made the switch.

If you take a step back and look closely, you may be surprised to find that the decision to single-task vs. multitask is one decision that you do have control over consistently throughout your day.  If you feel that other people’s expectations are causing you to reply to an email while you sit in a meeting, there might be other causes of this, such as setting expectations, which we can discuss in a separate post 🙂
I’d propose that once you start single-tasking, you may experience that the world doesn’t fall apart because you waited the 30 minutes for the meeting to end to send that email.  Even better, you won’t have five new emails to respond to immediately after the meeting, in response to your reply.  Experiencing something as simple as this, consistently, as a result of you replying to the email after the meeting, may cause your attraction to single-tasking to grow.
Another benefit of this approach is that you’ll experience the satisfaction that comes along with completing tasks more consistently, at shorter intervals, which in itself can be a nice tension release, rather having the tension build to higher and higher levels until it’s finally released when you complete a larger set of tasks.
By focusing on a single task, in addition to helping quiet your mind, while still getting done what you need to get done, you’ll also reduce the negative impact of task switching, which I’ve seen others refer to as the cost of task switching or task switching cost.
My level of productivity has at least stayed the same, and I sense that it’s actually improved slightly and maybe even a lot.  I do feel that my tension levels have dropped significantly by switching from a single tasking to multitasking approach.   If you make the switch, I think that you’ll also experience getting at least the same amount of work done, at the same level of quality, in the same period of time, at the same time, all while making the work a little bit easier on yourself.
The transition itself may take a few months, although I suspect you’ll feel the benefits of the switch from single- to multi-tasking sooner than that.  In my case, I took two weeks to phase in the transition gradually.  I did start to feel the positive effects of the switch within those two weeks and that by month 3 my old system of multi-tasking had been replaced by single-tasking, without having me think about it on a consistent basis.
My mind has become clearer and much more focused as a result of adopting this approach and hope that you experience the same sense of improved clarity and focus.