By: Michael Beiter
In the 1950's the word "priority" was mostly used singularly. It was not until later that "priority" became plural as "priorities" along with the belief that multitasking is a good idea.
That idea has staying power as I regularly have to correct clients who think think that by multitasking we get more done.
A Microsoft study found that attempting to focus on more than one priority at a time reduces productivity by as much as 40%. That is the equivalent of not sleeping and pulling an all nighter.
A similar study from HP found that the IQs of employees who were interrupted by email, calls, or instant messaging dropped by 10 points. That is twice the effect of getting high off weed.
I think we need to get better at single tasking. Especially with our fitness and nutrition. Let's do one thing for a prolonged period of time without distraction. We will get more done faster be less stressed this way.
Instead of a mixed bag workout pick one thing to do for an hour and just do that. Instead of dozens of food choices making up your daily eating reduce your choices to a small number you really love and know to be healthy. Try just changing your eating instead of your eating, exercise, sleep, and supplementation all at once. Single tasking > multi tasking.
Another study found that it takes on average 23.5 minutes to restore attention to the task at hand after switching to take a message or respond to en email. I think the same happens when you interrupt your weight lifting for some cardio bursts. Or even worse, when you crank your heart rate through the roof with some dumbbells in the middle of a yoga session.
Eating as an activity is not immune to the problem of multitasking. Mindless eating contributes to billions of calories consumed yearly by people who eat past their needs because they aren't paying attention to eating. They are eating and watching a show, eating and doing stuff on their phone, or eating and driving. A simple return to just eating would do wonders for peoples' waistlines.
Can we drop the farce that multitasking is a good thing? Can we dumb down our smart phones, say no to non essentials and just do one thing at a time?
This is a call to arms for single tasking to take back the reigns from multi tasking.
Priority. Not priorities.