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How Monotasking Boosts Your Brain—and Your Productivity

While furiously multitasking can make you feel like you’re getting a lot done, it can lower productivity by up to 40 percent, researchers say. If you hope to cross items off your to-do list, here’s why monotasking—focusing on one task at a time—may be a better option.

Monotasking helps you work faster. Each time you switch from one task to another, your brain has to adapt. Research shows that it can take up to 23 minutes to regain your focus after a distraction. Use apps like Freedom (Freedom.to) to block websites, apps, and notifications across all your devices while you focus on one task at a time.

Monotasking can cut down on stress. Work breaks lead to decreased stress and increased productivity when employees get back to their desks, studies show. Schedule downtime such as lunch breaks or afternoon walks, and refrain from checking email and doing other work tasks until you’re done.

Monotasking allows you to prioritize. Blocking out time for one uninterrupted task forces you to determine what’s most important in any given moment. It also keeps you from spending too much time on one project at the expense of another. Use apps like Google calendar (Google.com/calendar) and Plan (Getplan.co) to schedule the most urgent actions of every day.

Monotasking results in less busywork. Americans spend, on average, more than three hours a day sorting through work email. Instead of checking email while forging through other tasks, read it in batches at set intervals once or twice a day.

Monotasking helps you measure your efforts. When you’re doing multiple things at once, you have no idea how long any one task takes on its own. Allot 25, 35, or 45 minutes for a task, and do nothing except that task for the entire period. A timer app such as the Pomodoro Tracker (Pomodoro-tracker.com) can break time down into designated intervals.



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