As an avid self-help book reader, I have read a lot about productivity and time management. Most self-help books read the same on how to increase productivity by making the most of your time. This concept has proven to work time and time again as business continues to boom and more employees enter the workforce requesting full-time employment, which in America means 40 hours per week. Employees are pushed to produce more in less time.
Lately, I have noticed a new trend in the genre of self-help. Once upon a time, self-help books insisted that those seeking to increase productivity master the art of multi-tasking and tedios scheduling. In recent times, self-help books have begun to realize that multi-tasking and over scheduling actually decreases productivity after a certain point. Why is this? I have a few theories on my own based on personal experience.
What is Multi-Tasking and Why Did We Once Prize Mastery of it?
Multi-tasking is the act of doing several tasks at one time. Simple enough, right? Some examples of multi-tasking:
- Talking on the phone as you check your email;
- Scrolling through your social media feed as you do homework;
- Eating dinner while watching TV.
Trust me, the list can go on. I am sure you can list other examples of multi-tasking that you never really considered as multi-tasking. We will discuss one of those instances later. We understand what multi-tasking is so why would one prize mastery of it? To get more done in less time. Why? Because productivity and profits go hand-in-hand.
What’s Changed in Recent Years Regarding Multi-tasking and Productivity?
Firstly, multi-tasking is more recently being defined as distracting. How so? Multi-tasking lacks the focus required for efficient productivity. This comes from the idea that when you are doing more than one thing at one time, you are not focused on any one thing. Your attention and focus become diluted, increasing the risk of error. I am pretty sure that I also read some scientific reports that monitored our brains when we multi-tasked and compared it to our brains when we focus on a singular project and studies revealed that certain areas of the brain involved in decision making and focus showed more brain activity when working on a single task than when the subject worked on several tasks at one time.
What Does This Mean For You?
This new way of looking at multi-tasking makes me call into question all of the other distractions that affect my productivity. I have since begun to reduce the number of distractions in my daily living. Living a life with minimal distractions and more focus gives me more peace, calm, and tranquility. With the reduction of distraction life seems more rich as you see more and hear more of the world around. You will begin to live life by the moment as you learn to savor instead of rushing and multi-tasking.
Ways to Reduce Distractions
- Commit to focusing on one task at a time;
- Become aware of when you are multi-tasking by taking small pauses throughout your day to notice what you are doing at that moment. If you find that you are doing more than one thing, simply pause one task and work on the other if possible.
- Be more present.
Benefits of Reducing Distractions
- Increased productivity with less risk for error;
- Less stress;
- More mindfulness;
- Greater satisfaction completing tasks.
These are just some of the benefits and ways to reduce distractions.
Peace and Love.
Now that I have been without social media for a few years and as of recently, I have also gone without a mobile phone, people are always asking me questions. I find it a telling sign of addiction when people cannot imagine a life without social media or a mobile phone. For this article, let’s tackle boredom when you have unplugged.
I think it may be safe to assume that many of us do not fancy being bored.
In this digital age, boredom is a rare occasion when your boredom can instantly be quenched by social media.
A ready-made, cooked-to-order boredom killer is at your fingertips. What is my issue with such a fierce and effective boredom killer? I believe boredom can be beneficial to our mental well-being. It is the way we first learn to meditate or create as it enhances the use of our imagination and feeds into our thirst for curiosity.
Since not having a ready-made boredom killer, I find that my boredom turns into productivity and creativity.
I have taken up different hobbies and meet people the old-fashioned way by walking up to them and holding a conversation. When I am bored, I use it as a time to meditate or read. Most often, I simply use boredom to fuel my curiosity. Recently, I began birdwatching because I was really bored one day at home and I heard a very long and seemingly intricate birdsong. Boredom caused me to be really curious as to where the birdsong was coming from. Since that fateful bored day, I have invested in a thrifted bird book, binoculars, and walking trails. Not advertising boredom as a weigh loss supplement here, but I also lost weight from all the walking around.
If you do not want to fully disconnect but would like to be more creative or productive, give boredom a try. Schedule a day or a chunk of time where you will not be connected to social media or your phone. When boredom arises, take the challenge to not engage in social media, instead, remain in your boredom and see where it takes you.
Peace and Love.