If I am feeling stressed or overwhelmed this often rings true for me as I tend to have many projects and tasks going at once but as of a month ago I have trialed Single taskings and have found I am more productive and focussed and achieve more than I would have doing 2-5 tasks at the same time. I am consciously finishing small tasks before starting the next. This could be as simple as making the kids lunches and then making the bed and then checking work emails and then putting a load of washing on, I would flit back and forthn between them all and wonder why I can't get anything done. Using GTD (Getting Things Done) and Mindfulness, along with persistence it is working.
STUDIES HAVE SHOWN THIS: Psychologists, R. Rogers & S Monsell, asked participants to switch tasks and then measured how much time was lost by switching. Participants were slower when they had to switch tasks than when they repeated the same task.
Another studyin 2001 by J. Rubinstein, J. Evans & D. Meyer found that participants lost significant amounts of time as they switched between multiple tasks and lost even more time as the tasks became increasingly complex.
Two stages to the executive control process.
First Stage: Goal Shifting: deciding to do one thing instead of another.
Second Stage: Role activation: changing from the rules for the previous task to rules for the new task.
Switching between these may only add a couple of seconds or more, but this can start to add up when people begin switching back and forth repeatedly. Your brain has to refocus on each task again and again and again, rather than completing one task and letting it go and move on to the next.
This may not be a big deal at times, such as when you are folding laundry and watching television simultaneously. However, if you are in a situation where safety or productivity are important, such as when you are driving a car in heavy traffic, or getting a project in on time, even small amounts of time can be crucial.