As our lives continue to get busier, many of us look for ways to multitask so that we can get more done. Technology has made multitasking so easy, but unfortunately, constant multitasking can lead to memory problems and a reduction in your brain’s gray matter. Not surprisingly, these side effects can prevent you from focusing on one project or task long enough to fully complete it.
So how do you stop multitasking? Try the nine tips below.
Don’t start your morning by looking at your phone
While you may think a quick glance at your phone in the morning won’t cause any harm, it can be a major drain on your productivity. Checking your phone as soon as you wake up will put you into a reactive state of mind. Give yourself time to properly wake up. Wait at least an hour before checking your phone.
Create a list of daily priorities
Make a list of tasks that you need to complete and list them in the priority that they need to be done. This way, each of your tasks will get your full focus, and you’ll make sure that the most crucial ones are completed. If you don’t get through everything on your list, move those items to the next day.
Reduce or eliminate outside distractions
Do your best to eliminate distractions throughout the day. Turn off your email, text messages, and social media notifications while you are completing tasks. If your problem is at work, consider booking time on your calendar for focused work so that coworkers won’t interrupt
Set a time for distractions
Set a specific time each day to check email, social media, and text messages. This can be your lunch break or a set period of time before you leave the office.
Be prepared to say no
Sometimes you may find yourself multitasking because you took on a task you don’t really have time for. Don’t be afraid to say no when asked to complete additional tasks. Be aware of how much is on your plate and how long it will take to complete. If you can’t fit any more in your day, simply decline. There’s no need to provide a long explanation; keep it short and simple.
Keep work areas clean and organized
Messes can be distracting. Organize your desk so that you can tackle one thing at a time. You also might want to consider removing distracting knickknacks that can pull your attention away from the task at hand.
Be sure to unitask during your prime time
You should schedule work that is challenging and requires a lot of focus for the time of day when your attention and drive are at their peak. For example, if you are a morning person, tackle these projects first thing after you get to work. If you attempt to complete these tasks when you are physically or mentally fatigued, your mind will be more likely to wander.
Be aware of your multitasking habits
The first step in breaking a habit is being aware of it. If you find yourself constantly multitasking, choose a day to log everything you do so that you can identify patterns that lead to your distractions and be mindful of them in the future.
Consider apps that block distractions
If you find yourself constantly checking social media accounts, you can download an app that will block you from viewing these accounts during certain times. Apps like SelfControl also allow you to pick websites that you want to block for set periods of time.
Don’t let multitasking distract you from the tasks that you need to get done, or draw your focus away so you don’t complete tasks as well as you should. Follow the nine tips above to stop constant multitasking and take back control of your day.