|A new book recommends that the best way to be productive in your work is to do one task at a time and give it all your attention.
The problem with life and work now is that we all try to do too many different things at the same time. We are working down our ‘to-do’ list and doing bits of each task rather than one at a time. When we do this, our brain is still thinking about the earlier task instead of focusing on the main one. This is like having an open door to other distractions, and so it becomes more difficult to concentrate on what we need to do.
The book is by a professor of computer science, Cal Newport, and is called ‘Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World’. The problem of distractions is called ‘attention residue’. Another researcher, Sophie Leroy, found in 2009 that people are significantly less productive when they are constantly switching between tasks rather than focusing our attention on one thing at a time.
Newport recommends what he calls ‘deep work’: focusing on one more challenging thing you need to do for a longer period of time, rather than flitting between different things.
Newport claims that this will rid us of attention residue, making us more productive, less likely to procrastinate, and better at our work.
So next time you’re working through a to-do list, don’t skip ahead or do sections of each task at a time.