Why “Single-Tasking” is more productive

When one thinks of all the tasks needed to be completed for the day, it’s no wonder we try to multi-task. We seem to think that it will be more efficient and enable us to accomplish more of our goals. Unfortunately, for 98% of the population, this is simply not that case; our brains are just not wired that way.1

Numerous studies have been conducted highlighting the inefficiency of multi-tasking. You may be reading this thinking, But I am the exception! Unfortunately, that’s highly unlikely. While you think you can work on a few projects at the same time, your brain is actually switching back and forth between tasks. This is taxing on your brain and body, causing you to become more tired. So, when you think you need an extra cup of coffee or food to get through a given task, what you may actually need is a break. In a study performed by researchers at Stanford University, they discovered that taking a 15-minute break every few hours, enabled subjects to be more productive.1

Gloria Mark, a professor in the informatics department at the University of California, Irvine, says it takes on average 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to work after being interrupted. Switching back and forth can cause an increase of stress.2

So, how do you single-task? Here are some tips:

  • Limit the number of tabs on your browser. To limit your distractions try to limit the amount of tabs you have open. Some individuals even have what they call “single-tab” days each week to minimize distractions and improve focus.
  • Close your email. When we constantly check email, you are diverting your attention away from other tasks.  Instead, set aside times (first thing in the morning, noon, and before leaving for the day) when you will check email, and only check it then.
  • Silence your Cell. In today’s world of texting and social media, it can be tempting to check your phone every few minutes. That doesn’t bode well for efficiency in the workplace. Instead, silence, or turn off your phone while completing tasks.


These are only a few examples of how to reduce multitasking and improve efficiency throughout the day. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to decide they can implement these to improve their day-to-day tasks.

  1. A critical role for the right fronto-insular cortex in switching between central-executive and default-mode networks, Stanford Study, see daniellevitin.com
  2. Neuroscientists say multitasking literally drains the energy reserves of your brain
  3. How Single-tasking boosts your productivity