Matter Chatter

Take a Mental Load Off, Start Monotasking

I sat down to write this blog, ready to tell the people of the world wide web all they need to know about monotasking, and I couldn’t. At the same time I was digging up material to reference, I was sorting through my emails, perusing HootSuite for client mentions, pitching a new story idea, and so on. The longer I had an empty Word document in front of me, the more I realized how many other things I should and could be doing.

At a time when jobs are scarce, competition is fierce, and employees can expect to play various roles within an organization, why should we care about learning how to monotask? Monotasking, as defined, means focusing on a single task. However, I’ve yet to see a job description that reads “monotasker preferred.” Is this not a skill that is desired in the workforce? If not, why even bother trying to master the art of performing only one task? I’ll tell you why: because it works. Seriously. Try it. Look at your to-do list, pick one thing, and do it without any interruptions. Ignore email for a set length of time, hold your calls, and just finish the task. Listen, the world doesn’t stop when you take a break from your desk to grab a bite to eat, so why feel the need to open every email as soon as it hits your inbox once you are back in the office?

The truth is, as PR professionals, we have been trained to perform this way. With multiple clients and the need to always be “connected,” we are multitaskers at heart. Maybe this quality has become so engraved in our minds that we have overlooked the importance of monotasking. I think it’s time we give monotasking a chance.

To the colleague that introduced me to this phenomenon known as monotasking, I say thank you. You may have changed my world as I know it. I’ve always prided myself on my multitasking abilities, but am taking a stand for change. Power to the monotaskers! From this day forward, I strive to perfect the art of performing only one task at a time…right after I feed the cats while cooking dinner, call my mom while washing the dishes, read a book while watching the evening news…

*How (and Why) to Stop Multitasking – Harvard Business Review

*Multi-Tasking Vs. Mono-Tasking – Dumb Little Man

*Electronic Multitasking is a Brain Drain – SF Gate /The Tech Chronicles

  • http://www.matternow.com Marci

    Julie,
    Thanks for the great post! I couldn’t agree more! Monotasking is really an art in our industry. There are so many blogs, sites, stories, tweets and emails to read that “multitasking” is inherent, but it is that much more difficult to actually accomplish the tasks at hand. By slowing down and focusing on one thing at a time, we can regain some sanity and check more items off of our “to do” lists.

    Cheers,
    Marci

  • John

    Cudos to you Julie.
    Your message definately hits a nerve with all professions where multitasking is no longer an individual talent but a requirement to get the job. Unfortunately most employers have lost sight of the fact that when basic humanities in dealing with the tasks at hand are left behind, lost, or abandoned, in the persuit of being number one while being understaffed, we all loose. If you haven’t chosen one of the dozen options you’ve been presented with please stay on the line and maybe, just maybe, someone will be focused on your needs sometime in the near future. However, please remember that if we fail to ever get back to you because of the constant juggling act we have going on here we do appreciate your business!

    Go for it,
    John