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Get More Done One Thing at a Time

By Devora Zack
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Singletasking by Devora Zack

Singletasking (2015) tackles some of the common myths surrounding multitasking and productivity. Full of practical advice and tricks to help you get more from your day, Singletasking clearly demonstrates how immersive focus on a single task leads to a more efficient, and ultimately happier, life.

Key idea 1 of 8

Multitasking isn’t the answer to a hectic life; quite the contrary, it can even be fatal!

Multitasking kills!” Now there’s a campaign sticker you thought you’d never see. Laugh all you want, but it’s actually true!

Indeed, multitasking causes the deaths of thousands of people as well as economic damages amounting to billions every year.

For example, did you know that distracted driving, such as driving while texting, talking on the phone, etc., is the second leading cause for car accidents after driving under the influence?

In fact, the American Automobile Association (AAA) recently discovered that about 67 percent of all American drivers use their phones while behind the wheel. As a result, tens of thousands of people are dying as an immediate consequence of people trying to pay attention to too many things at once.

The economic cost – the loss of property and the impact of injuries and loss of life – due to distracted driving is similarly astonishing, totalling $871 billion per year.

Not only is multitasking dangerous, it also won’t make you more productive.

In fact, there’s really no such thing as multitasking, per se. As Stanford University neuroscientist Dr. Eyal Ophir has shown in his studies, our brain is simply incapable of focusing on multiple things simultaneously.

Rather, it simply switches the focus of its selective attention between the various tasks it has to handle at any given moment. When your brain has to make the switch, your performance suffers, causing you to work less efficiently on the task you’re currently focused on.

Moreover, divided attention makes it more difficult for you to handle incoming data, as it hinders the information processing in your short- and long-term memory. This was demonstrated in a Harvard study conducted in 2011, which examined the relationship between multitasking and academic performance. The study revealed that our cognitive functions, especially in our memory, become increasingly limited while multitasking.

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