If you’ve been experiencing burnout for the past year trying to juggle tasks, you should try single-tasking in 2022. In fact, here are 5 resolutions to make in 2022.
Despite staying indoors throughout the pandemic, it appears that we’ve been busier than ever. It’s no surprise why, too. We’re stuck at home with no schedule — the days blur into one another, and time is no more than a loose concept. We don’t work at fixed hours of nine to five anymore, and our day is spent completing one task after the other, combining office work and housework.
It’s no wonder why we’re feeling so burnt out juggling multiple tasks.
In the heydays of hustle culture, we chase productivity and even pride ourselves in multitasking. Some jobs even list multitasking as part of their job requirement. If you can’t handle more than one thing being thrown at you, are you even capable of entering the workforce?
Multitasking is so passé
Thankfully, those days are soon over. People quickly saw that multitasking also meant that your mind is on many other things. This equals less focus on a single task and probably more errors. Research has also shown that our brains are not wired to multitask. However, it may appear that we have no trouble doing so, especially when we’re effortlessly replying to emails while in a meeting or having a conversation while driving.
In an interview with NPR, neuroscientist Earl Miller says that the brain can’t focus on more than one thing at a time. “What we can do is shift our focus from one thing to the next with astonishing speed,” he said.
“Switching from task to task, you think you’re paying attention to everything around you at the same time. But you’re actually not. You’re not paying attention to one or two things simultaneously but switching between them very rapidly.”
It makes sense that when our brain is constantly switching its attention on different tasks, we feel mentally drained. While it may seem easy to multitask when the job at hand is mundane and doesn’t require high focus—such as listening to a podcast while doing the dishes—it’s a different story for tasks that require a lot of attention to detail. If you’ve ever turned down the music to concentrate on driving directions, this perfectly illustrates that our brain is incapable of multitasking.
What is single-tasking?
Once it was clear that multitasking is the enemy, the spotlight has since been shifted to single-tasking. As its name suggests, single-tasking is the art of putting your entire focus on one task and seeing it to completion without having your mind on other tasks. If you’ve been so used to multitasking, rewiring your brain to do this may be difficult, and at times even dull. You might even take a longer time to complete the job. During these times, you must continue working on it and do as the TikTokers say: trust the process.
Eventually, you’ll reap the benefits of single-tasking, mainly if you’re working on challenging tasks like balancing ledgers or working out the next quarter’s marketing plans. Single-tasking in this instance will allow you to focus on the subject, see the bigger picture, and place more attention on small details.
Why should you be single-tasking?
Rather than continue burning out in 2022, why not shift your focus to the art of single-tasking instead? After the pandemic hit, we all took a good, hard look at our lifestyles and realised that all this hustle is simply not worth sacrificing our wellbeing. Will achieving 100K followers on Instagram save lives? Is that three-hour meeting worth it? Does the client really need you to finish that pitch deck at 5 PM on a Friday?
The answer is no.
Single-task your way through your jobs and let the quality of the finished product speak for itself. You’ll also feel a lot better not wearing your brain out by trying to think of how to craft that email to your boss while taking down meeting notes.
If you’re looking for professional email responses to use when you don’t feel like dealing, read this.
How I single-task
It wasn’t easy. Multitasking had significantly reduced my attention span due to all the multitasking I had done throughout the years. However, once I got into its groove, I found that I enjoyed myself immensely, focusing on the task at hand.
The first step to attempting single-tasking is to remove all points of distractions. Place your smartphone screen down and in Focus mode to avoid getting distracted by notifications. Close the Whatsapp tab on your desktop (or any irrelevant tabs on your web browser) and mute any incoming emails. Finally, put on some low-distraction Lo-Fi music and get to work.
However, it doesn’t mean that you can only single-task everything. You can still multitask, but if you want to avoid burning out, keep the multitasking to mundane activities like watching TV while folding the laundry or listening to a podcast while doing the dishes.
Happy single-tasking, and have a mentally healthy 2022.