Some people at Fast Company had a go at using only one browser tab at a time – for a whole week.
The premise behind this challenge is that multitasking rarely works–yes, we can walk and talk at the same time, but when we’re quickly shifting between email, filling out spreadsheets, and checking our Twitter, all we’re actually doing is juggling tasks, and this just kills our focus and makes work take longer.
The outcome? Sometimes it makes more sense to focus on one task (and however many tabs you need open to do that one task) rather than rigidly sticking to the one-tab rule. Because this: “Open Twitter. Think “crap, I need the story link.” Close Twitter, open article page. Copy link. Close article, open Twitter.”
But all in all, single-tasking can be very productive and rewarding: “It was SO refreshing to have just one thing to do…I was actually having creative ideas (something that usually doesn’t happen in the middle of the work day). It made me realize I need to take more opportunities to single-task.”
The ‘evils of multi-tasking’ is something of a theme for New Zealand agile coach Sandy Mamoli who has been tackling some new ways of working with TradeMe’s Tech department. She is a fan of using Personal KanBan and Portfolio Kanban to help people focus on the task at hand and finish it before moving on to the next.
“We found it tremendously helpful to make our tasks visible though post-it notes, to visualise our workflow and to make sure that we didn’t do too many things at the same time. With the visual task wall, the so-called team Kanban board, everyone knew how close we were to our goals, what still needed to be done and who was working on which task.
“But as not everyone works on only one project – some people work across several project teams, others work predominantly by themselves – we started to think about how we could transfer the benefits of the shared visual board to our individual todo lists and people’s personal workflows.
“This, in combination with our newfound love for the agile idea to finish one task before starting a new one, led us to create personal Kanban boards.”