Some of us can use productivity hacks in the workplace, especially when distraction gets in the way.
Not so much a hack, deep thinking has been recognized in the media as a skill of intense focus that helps people accomplish more complex tasks. Conversely, multi-tasking has earned a negative reputation after some research suggested that multi-tasking is mentally detrimental and impossible.
Let’s dig into deep thinking and multi-tasking and how both methods may help to increase productivity.
On Deep Thinking
Deep thinking, also known as deep work, means intensely focusing on a single cognitively demanding task without distraction.
Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, states that deep work “allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time.” Instead of allowing your mind to roam back and forth between tasks, as with multi-tasking, we should devote complete focus and time on one task or activity.
The American Psychological Association defines multi-tasking as “[performing] two tasks simultaneously, switch from one task to another, or perform two or more tasks in rapid succession.” Research has shown that the human mind performs sub-optimally while multi-tasking. This leads one to conclude that multi-tasking should be avoided.
Many of us may be guilty of checking our email, fixing our hair, and eating all while driving on the freeway. But multi-tasking might not always be a recipe for disaster or a hindrance in productivity.
Both deep thinking and multi-tasking may be beneficial depending on the tasks involved. Many mundane “mindless” activities such as clearing out email inboxes and eating lunch do not require as much mental power and thus, may be accomplished through multi-tasking. Below are three suggestions involving deep thinking and multi-tasking for increasing productivity and reducing distraction.
1) Plan Out the Day
Writing down a schedule or to-do list for the day may help a wandering mind. Chunking time for certain tasks and activities may keep us on track and prevent us from veering away from the task at hand.
2) Learn to Say No
Sometimes coworkers or family members try to grab our attention during periods of concentration. Learning to say no or telling others about our goals may sustain uninterrupted deep thinking.
3) Separate Deep Work from Busywork
When planning out our day, grouping together deep work activities into their own time slots and separating busywork tasks may prove most efficient.
Reflecting on our goals may reveal to us what methods result in higher achievement. Incorporating deep thinking and multi-tasking into our strategies appropriately can reap the best results.