Multi-tasking versus singular focus — it’s obvious which is the better path to completing tasks, isn’t it? Or is it?
Many of us assume that multi-tasking will leave us at the end of the day having accomplished more. Larry Rosen, a psychology professor at California State University, conducted a study of 263 students in which they were asked to work on homework for 15 minutes. By the end of the 15 minutes the students had spent only 65% of their time on homework and the rest answering texts, emails, looking at their Facebook feed, etc. Much research has been done on this and by-and-large, the findings clearly point to single focus being more productive.
In this always-on world of ours, it’s pretty tough to find that focus. For example, it’s taken me a while to write this because an email notice pops up frequently in the lower left corner of my monitor, or the phone rings, or a text comes in, or … or …
I think it’s interesting though that once we’re able to find singular focus it is a great place to dwell. I have a necklace that has three strands of slightly different lengths joined together at each end near the clasp. The strands are made of small thin loops. The problem is the strands are hopelessly tangled up. I have it lying on top of my bureau and over the last several weeks I have spent at least a couple of hours trying to untangle it. The singular focus required is refreshing and compelling. I could sit there and do it much more than I allow myself.
Lost productivity for students adversely affects the quality of their learning. Lost productivity in business affects the bottom line. There have been many programs developed to help us regain that focus. It behooves us all to make the effort and find one that works for us.
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