Q: What is unitasking?
a) doing your study tasks for uni
b) doing odd jobs in your unitard
c) doing the washing up whilst on your unicycle
d) old-school idea of focusing on one thing at a time
If you said d) you may be on your way to a new way of doing things. Writer AJ Jacobs, writes about his attempt to give multi-tasking the boot and embarks on Operation Focus in the article “How I stopped the Multitasking Madness”, after he found out that multitasking is actually ineffective. (Note: it’s somewhat oxymoronic that his online article has ads flashing at you while you read, begging to distract you from the task at hand.)
It’s one of lifes many truisms that women multitask and men are multitasking-challenged. I recently confessed to a uni friend of my failure as a woman because of my inability to juggle multiple tasks. She just gave me a withering stare and said “Nobody can! It’s a myth.”
This revelation was truly shocking….the idea of focusing on one thing at a time so novel. The feeling of relief was instantly followed by anxiety- would I have to give up listening to the radio while checking my emails, give up checking facebook while doing homework, worse still, give up watching TV while eating dinner! I did have a sneaking suspicion that the reason I take so long to read the newspaper was because I simultaneously listen to talk-based radio programs, but like an addict trying to give up [insert favourite addiction here] I fear there is going to be a fair amount of resistance to unitasking.
So why bother? Well hopefully it’s going to make it easier and faster to get homework and other tasks done if you do one thing at a time and learn to focus your attention- and then you’ll have more time to check emails/Facebook/text/listen to music- as long as you do them one at a time. The quality of your work should improve too, because you are not being distracted continuously by other things that are happening plus your stress levels should drop.
If you are still think you’re good at multitasking, have a look at some research undertaken by Stanford University.
The hard part of course, is actually committing to changing long term and I’m not sure how I will go. Dare I log out of my email while I’m doing assignments? Will life feel empty and disconnected? Or will I be a new-look, more organised, focused person? I may possibly only report back on this if I have good news!