The Value of Unitasking

January 22, 2012

Over the last four months I’ve been cutting down on multitasking, and focusing my energy on one task at a time. It’s been time well spent.

An adept mult-tasker, I was in the habit of constantly filling spare minutes trying to sate my appetite for learning new things; reading articles online while watching television; reading one last page while brushing my teeth before bed; writing code while conversing over what to make for dinner.

The results were mixed. I did accomplish a respectable volume of work, but the quality of code and knowledge retention was subpar.

Having been fascinated by the question of focused unitasking vs. multitasking for years, I decided to try things on the other side of the fence. Instead of cramming in tasks here and there, I now schedule blocks of time to focus on one task at a time. The idea is to delay working on a task until I can give it my complete attention. If I only have five minutes of spare, I won’t even think of picking up the tech book I’m currently reading.

After four months, the result have been overwhelmingly positive. Not only has the quality of work has improved, but I get more done in less time.

More importantly, it leaves more time to enjoy other things without feeling like I’m wasting time I should be spending on learning. Instead of caving into the urge to read another article or write some more code, I can focus completely on other enjoyable tasks in life like cooking a meal together, or having a completely engaged conversation.

Like bunk-beds in Stepbrothers, there’s I find I have so much more room for activities. And that my friends, is a good thing.

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