The Coffey Blog

Have a Great Workday! Take the single-tasking challenge

Posted on: Monday, December 12, 2016

Melissa Welling, Editor

You're a busy healthcare marketer. So maybe you've been known to crank out emails while you take meetings over the phone and check incoming messages on a second screen.

Multitasking may make you feel like a workplace wizard. But it's all smoke and mirrors. The real magic is in single-tasking.

Simply put, single-tasking is doing one thing at a time—fully focused on the task at hand. Not only is it a less stressful way to work, it can boost the quality and quantity of the work you do.

But is it really so much better than our much-loved multitasking? Sorry, but it's time to bust some popular myths.

3 myths about multitasking

Myth No. 1: I'm good at it.

The truth: Your brain simply isn't built for multitasking. When you think you're doing two things at once, you're really just switching back and forth quickly. That keeps your thoughts surface-level, not allowing you to dive deeper into more creative, meaningful thinking.

It also makes you less likely to catch mistakes—or see opportunities. Guess how many multitasking college students failed to notice a clown riding a unicycle!

Myth No. 2: It makes me more productive.

The truth: Multitasking doesn't save you time. You may touch more projects or challenges in a day, but you're likely making less headway on each of them. And that can take a toll on your overall productivity.

Want to see how much multitasking slows you down? Try this eye-opening experiment.

Myth No. 3: It's unavoidable.

The truth: It takes practice, but you can find ways to single-task to greater success. It isn't about being perfect, but it is about setting priorities and limiting distractions.

It's also about good communication. If you're working on a task or project that needs your undivided attention, let your colleagues know. Maybe you'll be away from email for a couple of hours or not available for drop-in meetings.

Rather than disappointing people, you may find they're impressed with your focus on producing quality work. Bravo, single-tasking genius!

Single-tasking: Challenge accepted!

Want to give single-tasking a try? Here's your first lesson: Don't put it off. We've set this up as a week's worth of challenges, but you might also pick and choose what to focus on:

Monday: Set aside a few specific times today to check email. The rest of the time, close it—or turn off the distracting notifications.

Tuesday: Book a meeting with yourself to work on a project uninterrupted.

Wednesday: Commit to working on an unpleasant task for at least 20 minutes, and set a timer while you do it.

Thursday: Make a clean sweep. Clear off your desk—leaving only those things you truly need. If it's not helping you do your work today, put it away or throw it out.

Friday: Tackle digital distraction. Today, open only those browser tabs, programs and files you need to do the next task, and then close them when you're done.

Healthcare marketing: It's our single focus

Coffey knows healthcare. For the past 30-plus years we've been solely dedicated to helping our healthcare clients reach their audiences. We'd love to talk with you about your goals and challenges—you'll have our full attention. Call 888.805.9101 or email us.

Related reading

Have a Great Workday! Dealing with distractions at work
Have a Great Workday! 7 strategies for fighting procrastination
Have a Great Workday! Tame your to-do list by touching it once