I come across a lot of unusual “holidays” when creating the Monthly Nonprofit Writing Prompts email newsletter. While some of them are silly, they can still make good writing prompts like Optimist Day (February 3rd) or Pretend to Be a Time Traveler Day (December 8th)

And then there are things like Wave All Your Fingers At Your Neighbors Day (February 7th) or International Cherry Pit Spitting Day (July 1st) which I can’t really do anything with.

As someone who usually has at least two browser windows with multiple tabs open in each at any given time, Single-Tasking Day (February 22nd) got my attention.

I want to share the principals behind it since we are constantly told multitasking is the ultimate display of productivity. (Keep reading to learn why that isn’t true)

The idea behind Single-Tasking Day is to focus on one thing at a time. Take a task, break it down, and be intentional about finishing it. While you can take a break, the goal is to minimize distractions and interruptions until the task is complete.

You can complete more than one task on this day, but you should only be focusing on one and finishing it before moving on.

Why is this important? Well because despite employers looking for people who can “multitask”, multiple studies show that multitasking is less productive and leaves us more exhausted:

(You’ll notice all of these articles are years old at this point and yet we still can’t get over our multitasking ways!)

In the article The Real Cost Of Context Switching [And How To Solve It], Dominic Kent says that every time we try to focus on two different things at the same time (content switching), we activate our “working memory.” Multitasking uses up the limited capacity of our working memory. This causes not only our brain to become fatigued, but our entire body to become fatigued.

“Think of losing focus every time you context switch like an injury.” ~ Dominic Kent

These constant switches in focus have an adverse impact on your brain. You aren’t being productive, you’re just confusing your brain!

So this Thursday, February 22nd, let’s celebrate Single-Tasking Day!

Here are some tips to transition from multitasking to single-tasking:

  1. Tell others what you are doing so they can leave you alone.
  2. Only have one browser tab open. (Or if you are doing research, etc only have those with relevant content open)
  3. Shut down email.
  4. Turn off your phone (or at least silence it).
  5. Turn off all other notifications.
  6. Do a Brain Dump.
  7. Group and prioritize your tasks.
  8. Or pick that “ONE” thing you just can’t seem to stay focused on, but needs to get done.
  9. Use the ol’ Pomodoro Technique. (Focus on a single task for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break.)
  10. Take breaks away from your computer. (Do not use this time to check email, etc or your will get distracted).

For a lot of us, this is completely foreign way of doing things and will take some practice. Your brain is incredibly good at learning patterns meaning it will interrupt your train of thought because it thinks you need to check your email or look at your phone.

You may need to retrain your brain. Time how long it takes for your brain to interrupt you single tasking for a few days. Then start setting a timer for a few minutes longer that that for each task. The theory is your brain will eventually go longer and longer between distracting you with thoughts of Instagram and text messages.

Eventually single-tasking can become something we do all the time and not just on February 22nd!

Published On: February 20, 2024|Categories: Workflows, Processes, and Productivity|