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robertogreco : singletasking   22

Read This Story Without Distraction (Can You?) - The New York Times
"Maybe this doesn’t feel like a big deal. Doing one thing at a time isn’t a new idea.

Indeed, multitasking, that bulwark of anemic résumés everywhere, has come under fire in recent years. A 2014 study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that interruptions as brief as two to three seconds — which is to say, less than the amount of time it would take you to toggle from this article to your email and back again — were enough to double the number of errors participants made in an assigned task.

Earlier research out of Stanford revealed that self-identified “high media multitaskers” are actually more easily distracted than those who limit their time toggling.

So, in layman’s terms, by doing more you’re getting less done.

But monotasking, also referred to as single-tasking or unitasking, isn’t just about getting things done.

Not the same as mindfulness, which focuses on emotional awareness, monotasking is a 21st-century term for what your high school English teacher probably just called “paying attention.”"



"This is great news for the self-identified monotaskers out there.

Jon Pack, a 42-year-old photographer in Brooklyn, was happy to hear that his single-minded manner might be undergoing a rebrand. “When I was looking for jobs and interviewing, they’d always want me to say, ‘I’m a great multitasker,’ ” he said. “And I wouldn’t. My inability to multitask was seen as a negative. Now I can just say, ‘I am a monotasker. I am someone who works best when I focus on one thing at a time.’ ”

And the way we work can have effects that kick in long after we clock out.

As much as people would like to believe otherwise, humans have finite neural resources that are depleted every time we switch between tasks, which, especially for those who work online, Ms. Zomorodi said, can happen upward of 400 times a day, according to a 2016 University of California, Irvine study. “That’s why you feel tired at the end of the day,” she said. “You’ve used them all up.”

The term “brain dead” suddenly takes on a whole new meaning.

A good sign you’ve task-switched yourself into a stupor: mindlessly scrolling Facebook at the end of the night or, as in Ms. Zomorodi’s case, looking at couches on Pinterest. “I just stuff my brain full of them because I can’t manage to do anything else,” she said. “The sad thing is that I don’t get any closer to deciding which one I like.”

But monotasking can also make work itself more enjoyable.

“I can multitask — and do, of course; it’s kind of essential — but I prefer to do one thing at a time,” Hayley Phelan, a 28-year-old writer, wrote in an email. “If I keep looking at my phone or my inbox or various websites, working feels a lot more tortuous. When I’m focused and making progress, work is actually pleasurable.”

Ms. Phelan isn’t imagining things. “Almost any experience is improved by paying full attention to it,” Ms. McGonigal said. “Attention is one way your brain decides, ‘Is this interesting? Is this worthwhile? Is this fun?’ ”

It’s the reason television shows we tweet through feel tiresome and books we pick up and put down and pick up again never seem to end. The more we allow ourselves to be distracted from a particular activity, the more we feel the need to be distracted. Paying attention pays dividends.

This is why, according to Ms. McGonigal, the ability to monotask might be most valuable in social situations. “Research shows that just having a phone on the table is sufficiently distracting to reduce empathy and rapport between two people who are in conversation,” she said.

Twenty-five thousand people participated in Ms. Zomorodi’s Infomagical project, which started the week with a single-tasking challenge. Upon completion, respondents agreed overwhelmingly that single-tasking was the No. 1 thing they wanted to carry into their post-Infomagical lives. “But they also said it was really, really hard,” Ms. Zomorodi said.

Parents of young children found it difficult for obvious reasons, as did people with jobs that permit them less control over their time. In those cases, try monotasking in areas where you can: conversations with your children, reading a book in bed before they go to sleep, dinner or drinks with friends. After all, monotasking is a good skill to incorporate into all aspects of your life, not just work.

Even those with more flexibility can find themselves going to great lengths for a little bit of focus. Nick Pandolfi, who works in partnerships at Google, once traveled to northern Sweden in what he described as an “extreme” effort to monotask.

“I had to write my business school application essays, and I was having no luck spending an hour here and there after work and on the weekends,” Mr. Pandolfi said. “I just wasn’t inspired. After spending a few days hiking in the Arctic by myself, I was able to get all of them done in just a few days.”"



"Monotasking can also be as simple as having a conversation.

“Practice how you listen to people,” Ms. McGonigal said. “Put down anything that’s in your hands and turn all of your attentional channels to the person who is talking. You should be looking at them, listening to them, and your body should be turned to them. If you want to see a benefit from monotasking, if you want to have any kind of social rapport or influence on someone, that’s the place to start. That’s where you’ll see the biggest payoff.”"
multitasking  attention  monotasking  singletasking  2016  psychology  cognition  cognitiveload  conversation  janemcgonigal  listening  presence  cv 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Most People Can't Multitask, But a Few Are Exceptional. : The New Yorker
"In 2012, David Strayer found himself in a research lab, on the outskirts of London, observing something he hadn’t thought possible: extraordinary multitasking. For his entire career, Strayer, a professor of psychology at the University of Utah, had been studying attention—how it works and how it doesn’t. Methods had come and gone, theories had replaced theories, but one constant remained: humans couldn’t multitask. Each time someone tried to focus on more than one thing at a time, performance suffered. Most recently, Strayer had been focussing on people who drive while on the phone. Over the course of a decade, he and his colleagues had demonstrated that drivers using cell phones—even hands-free devices—were at just as high a risk of accidents as intoxicated ones. Reaction time slowed, attention decreased to the point where they’d miss more than half the things they’d otherwise see—a billboard or a child by the road, it mattered not.

Outside the lab, too, the multitasking deficit held steady. When Strayer and his colleagues observed fifty-six thousand drivers approaching an intersection, they found that those on their cell phones were more than twice as likely to fail to heed the stop signs. In 2010, the National Safety Council estimated that twenty-eight per cent of all deaths and accidents on highways were the result of drivers on their phones. “Our brain can’t handle the overload,” Strayer told me. “It’s just not made that way.”

What, then, was going on here in the London lab? The woman he was looking at—let’s call her Cassie—was an exception to what twenty-five years of research had taught him. As she took on more and more tasks, she didn’t get worse. She got better. There she was, driving, doing complex math, responding to barking prompts through a cell phone, and she wasn’t breaking a sweat. She was, in other words, what Strayer would ultimately decide to call a supertasker.

About five years ago, Strayer recalls, he and his colleagues were sorting through some data, and noticed an anomaly: a participant whose score wasn’t deteriorating with the addition of multiple tasks. “We thought, That can’t be,” he said. “So we spent about a month trying to see an error.” The data looked solid, though, and so Strayer and his colleagues decided to push farther. That’s what he was doing in London: examining individuals who seemed to be the exception to the multitasking rule. A thousand people from all over the U.K. had taken a multitasking test. Most had fared poorly, as expected; in the London lab were the six who had done the best. Four, Strayer and his colleagues found, were good—but not quite good enough. They performed admirably but failed to hit the stringent criteria that the researchers had established: performance in the top quartile on every individual measure that remained equally high no matter how many tasks were added on. Two made every cut—and Cassie in particular was the best multitasker he had ever seen. “It’s a really, really hard test,” Strayer recalls. “Some people come out woozy—I have a headache, that really kind of hurts, that sort of thing. But she solved everything. She flew through it like a hot knife through butter.” In her pre-test, Cassie had made only a single math error (even supertaskers usually make more mistakes); when she started to multitask, even that one error went away. “She made zero mistakes,” Strayer says. “And she did even better when she was driving.”

Strayer believes that there is a tiny but persistent subset of the population—about two per cent—whose performance does not deteriorate, and can even improve, when multiple demands are placed on their attention. The supertaskers are true outliers. According to Strayer, multitasking isn’t part of a normal distribution akin to birth weight, where even the lightest and heaviest babies fall within a relatively tight range around an average size. Instead, it is more like I.Q.: most people cluster in an average range, but there is a long tail where only a tiny fraction—single digits among thousands—will ever find themselves."



"The flip side, of course, is that, for the ninety-seven and a half per cent of us who don’t share the requisite genetic predisposition, no amount of practice will make us into supertasking stars. In separate work from Stanford University, a team of neuroscientists found that heavy multitaskers—that is, those people who habitually engaged in multiple activities at once—fared worse than light multitaskers on measures of executive control and effective task switching. Multitasking a lot, in other words, appeared to make them worse at it. (In his earlier work, Strayer didn’t find that drivers who were used to talking on their phones while driving performed any better on multitasking measures than those who weren’t. Laboratory practice didn’t help improve their test scores, either.) “In these particular tasks, you can’t get much of a practice effect,” Strayer says.

The irony of Strayer’s work is that when people hear that supertaskers exist—even though they know they’re rare—they seem to take it as proof that they, naturally, are an exception. “You’re not,” Strayer told me bluntly. “The ninety-eight per cent of us, we deceive ourselves. And we tend to overrate our ability to multitask.” In fact, when he and his University of Utah colleague, the social psychologist David Sanbomnatsu, asked more than three hundred students to rate their ability to multitask and then compared those ratings to the students’ actual multitasking performances, they found a strong relationship: an inverse one. The better someone thought she was, the more likely it was that her performance was well below par.

At one point, I asked Strayer whether he thought he might be a supertasker himself. “I’ve been around this long enough I didn’t think I am,” he said. Turns out, he was right. There are the Cassies of the world, it’s true. But chances are, if you see someone talking on the phone as she drives up to the intersection, you’d do better to step way back. And if you’re the one doing the talking? You should probably not be in your car."
multitasking  attention  2014  mariakonnikova  davidstrayer  supertaskers  singletasking  safety  taskswitching  executivecontrol  monotasking 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Teachers: How Slowing Down Can Lead to Great Change | Edutopia
Not necessarily a new idea, but worth repeating:

"A Slow Schools Movement would offer a parallel paradigm shift -- an approach where we'd intentionally, mindfully work on one project at a time, one goal, or one initiative. We could work hard and focused, with urgency and intentionality, for eight hours a day, and then we could go home to our families, to our out-side-of-work lives, and home to ourselves. And we'd nurture and sustain many communities.

I'd love to lead a team or school or initiative where we could try this approach for a year or two where we'd slow way down, work no more than eight hours a day (a revolutionary concept!) and then we'd explore the impact of having tried this approach. The current systems at school have teachers doing this: burning out by burning both ends of the candle (what telling metaphors). It's not working; just look at the turnover data.

I absolutely believe that we could still accomplish great things, we could transform education, and we could even close the achievement gap if we slowed way down. We'd enjoy our work more and enjoy each other's company. We can start by transforming the way we think about "slowness." Slow is wonderful. Slow is thoughtful. Slow is sustainable and human and transformational. Won't you join Jenn and I in the Slow Schools Movement?"
slow  sloweducation  educaton  teaching  learning  singletasking  ratrace  2013  elenaaguilar  slowschools  monotasking 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Technology, love, and paying attention | A Thinking Reed
"Being attentive to another person, however, does require an act of the will. It does not come naturally. It involves deliberate effort and sometimes the setting aside of our own desires. It may even be a kind of sacrifice to give our attention to another and to be kind an act of heroism."

"[G]iving someone our attention requires an act of will or a kind of discipline. Maybe this is partly why so many spiritual traditions have cultivated practices that require people to focus their attention. I’m thinking especially of various forms of meditation and contemplative prayer. What these practices seem to have in common is an effort to focus on a reality beyond the self–to the extent that the ego recedes into the background."

[via: http://plsj.tumblr.com/post/46444396743/technology-love-and-paying-attention ]
attention  love  relationships  technology  discipline  focus  listening  meditation  religion  contemplation  prayer  selflessness  presence  singletasking  monotasking 
march 2013 by robertogreco
The abundance of slowness | Metagramme
"At Metagramme, the problem wasn’t cruel or unreasonable clients. They were actually kind and generous, for the most part. I had no one to blame but myself. It was time to man up in a major way. One of the glaring issues I faced was a total lack of boundaries. No phone call was too late to answer, no email too early. My lack of boundaries came from fear. Fear of what would happen if I said no more often. Fear of missing deadlines or disappointing customers. I was also afraid of allowing quiet reflection and creative diversions into the work day. I was punching the clock like any hourly employee. The story I told myself was that slowness and emptiness were the same thing. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I’ve found recently that when the time is used well, slowness can actually be one of the most profound sources of abundance."
adminstration  management  leadership  workculture  business  busyness  sayingno  singletasking  multitasking  seattime  meetings  focus  boundaries  falseheroism  workslavery  balancemburnout  attention  time  davidheinemeier  jasonfried  workaholics  work  slowness  slow  via:nicolefenton  monotasking 
september 2012 by robertogreco
en.Slow Media
The Slow Media Manifesto [ http://en.slow-media.net/manifesto ]

“1. Slow media are a contribution to sustainability. …
2. Slow media promote monotasking. …
3. Slow media aim at perfection. …
4. Slow media make quality palpable. …
5. Slow media advance prosumers. …
6. Slow media are discursive and dialogic. …
7. Slow media are social media. …
8. Slow media respect their users. …
9. Slow media are distributed via recommendations, not advertising. …
10. Slow media are timeless. …
11. Slow media are auratic. …
12. Slow media are progressive, not reactionary. …
13. Slow media focus on quality. …
14. Slow media ask for confidence and take their time to be credible. …”
culture  philosophy  society  2010  attention  patience  lifestyle  simplicity  manifesto  manifestos  jörgblumtritt  sabriadavid  benediktköhler  via:litherland  timelessness  recommendations  credibility  respect  socialmedia  discourse  dialogics  prosumers  longreads  quality  monotasking  singletasking  sustainability  slowmedia  slow 
february 2012 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: The Question of Attention
"Is your ability to attend to random flashing red rectangles a fair measuring system? Well, that's what always makes research funny. In order to quantify the human experience in a "valid" way you have to strip it down to a point where the experience itself is completely out of context and thus meaningless.

This "out of context research" is why, for example, I see so many high school graduates these days who can read perfectly fluently (which "research" says is important) while not comprehending one word. And, in the case of "attention," it is why we have so many smart people suddenly declaring that they are unable to "walk and chew gum at the same time.""

[One of several insightful posts about multitasking lately that move beyond the blanket good or bad.]
multitasking  attention  irasocol  learning  focus  research  bias  subtlety  singletasking  monotasking 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Blog: Frank Chimero (Here)
"I’ve said before attention is the most limited resource we have. We’re spread too thin, like too little butter over too much bread. I still believe that’s true, and there are a lot of people talking about how to alleviate that situation. But, often times the discussion stops too soon: we wrongly think that we’re just here to put up fences around certain areas so we’re not spread too thin.

We forget that the opportunity isn’t just to build up walls in certain areas, but to tear them down in others to give us the opportunity to care, to teach, and to just be present for a little while. Bad writers give mediocre advice that tell you to build up walls. The best writers tell you to tear walls down in the areas that matter to you. Because being available leads to incredible things: not only to unforeseen requests like Irwin’s, but also unexpected opportunities like _why’s teaching kids programming on a train ride. Availability is a mindset."
presence  frankchimero  availability  attention  delight  wonder  robertirwin  teaching  serendipity  play  focus  grazing  writing  programming  wisdom  singletasking  monotasking 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Multitasking Brain Divides And Conquers, To A Point : NPR
"Our brains are set up to do two things at once, but not three, a French team reports in the journal Science.

The researchers reached that conclusion after studying an area of the brain involved in goals and rewards. Their experiment tested people's abilities to accomplish up to three mental tasks at the same time. The tasks involved matching letters in different ways, and for incentive, participants were paid up to a euro for doing a task perfectly.

When volunteers were doing just one task, there was activity in goal-oriented areas of both frontal lobes, says Etienne Koechlin, a professor at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris.

That suggested that the two sides of the brain were working together to get the job done, he says.

But when people took on a second task, the lobes divided their responsibilities. "Each frontal lobe was pursuing its own goal," Koechlin says."
multitasking  research  singletasking  monotasking 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Former Google Executive On Getting Organized : NPR
"In this era of information overload, the experience of being stressed, forgetful and overwhelmed means your mind is perfectly normal. Douglas Merrill, author of the new book Getting Organized in the Google Era, writes about his own struggle with dyslexia, and how that forced him to develop techniques for remembering information."
timemanagement  productivity  organization  books  infooverload  multitasking  singletasking  dyslexia  monotasking 
march 2010 by robertogreco
A new class of content for a new class of device « Snarkmarket
"the web kinda hates bounded, holis­tic work...likes bits & pieces, cross-references & rec­om­men­da­tions, frag­ments & tabs...loves the fact that you’re read­ing this post in Google Reader...iPad looks to me like a focus machine...such an oppor­tu­nity for sto­ry­telling, & for inno­va­tion around sto­ry­telling...oppor­tu­nity to make the Myst of 2010...con­nect the dots. For all its power & flex­i­bil­ity, the web is really bad at pre­sent­ing bounded, holis­tic work in a focused, immer­sive way. This is why web shows never worked. The web is bad at con­tain­ers...bad at frames... the young Hayao Miyaza­kis & Mark Z. Danielewskis & Edward Goreys of this world ought to be learn­ing Objective-C—or at least mak­ing some new friends. Because this new device gives us the power and flex­i­bil­ity to real­ize a whole new class of crazy vision—and it puts that vision in a frame. ... In five years, the coolest stuff on the iPad should be… jeez, you know, I think it should be art."
design  culture  storytelling  snarkmarket  blogging  journalism  robinsloan  immersion  epub  content  ipad  marketing  attention  future  books  change  multimedia  apple  media  innovation  2010  focus  singletasking  multitasking  epublishing  digitalpublishing  epubs  monotasking 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Rough Type: Nicholas Carr's Blog: Hypermultitasking
"There’s evidence that, as Howard Rheingold suggests, we can train ourselves to be better multitaskers, to shift our attention even more swiftly and fluidly among contending chores and stimuli. And that will surely help us navigate the fast-moving stream of modern life. But improving our ability to multitask, neuroscience tells us in no uncertain terms, will never return to us the depth of understanding that comes with attentive, singleminded thought. You can improve your agility at multitasking, but you will never be able to multitask and engage in deep thought at the same time."
multitasking  attention  singletasking  howardrheingold  nicholascarr  monotasking 
december 2009 by robertogreco
The Long Now Blog » We are programmed to be interrupted.
"An ‘attention-deficient’ society obsessed with staying on top of things is a society that is stuck in the orientation phase of attention, makes snap judgments and is subject to the whims of cognitive shortcuts."

[Contrast with response from Mind Hacks: http://www.mindhacks.com/blog/2009/02/the_myth_of_the_conc.html ]
attention  continuouspartialattention  multitasking  singletasking  productivity  longnow  science  psychology  internet  socialmedia  culture  society  brain  change  adaptation  maggiejackson  technology  distraction  monotasking 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Multitasking is the fastest way to mediocrity - (37signals)
"I’m not complaining, I’m just observing. And the primary observation that comes out of all this is that multitasking is the fastest way to mediocrity. Things suck when you don’t give them your full attention.

I’m not thrilled with the work I’ve been doing lately.

This isn’t a breakthrough, it’s just a reminder. If you want to do great work, focus on one thing at a time. Finish it and move on to the next thing. It means some things aren’t going to get done as fast as some people may want. It means some people aren’t going to get your full attention for a while. But doing a bunch of crappy work, or making a bunch of poorly considered decisions just to get through the pile isn’t worth it."
multitasking  singletasking  continuouspartialattention  productivity  process  success  37signals  monotasking 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Mind Hacks: The myth of the concentration oasis
"New technology has not created some sort of unnatural cyber-world, but is just moving us away from a relatively short blip of focus that pervaded parts of the Western world for probably about 50 years at most.

And when we compare the level of stress and distraction it causes in comparison to the life of the average low-tech family, it's nothing. It actually allows us to focus, because it makes things less urgent, it controls the consequences and allows us to suffer no more than social indignation if we don't respond immediately.

The past, and for most people on the planet, the present, have never been an oasis of mental calm and creativity. And anyone who thinks they have it hard because people keep emailing them should trying bringing up a room of kids with nothing but two pairs of hands and a cooking pot."
distraction  attention  history  perspective  luddism  technology  children  mobile  phones  myths  concentration  infooverload  mindhacks  singletasking  psychology  pedagogy  science  internet  productivity  parenting  brain  twitter  society  flow  focus  leisure  continuouspartialattention  maggiejackson  culture  multitasking  monotasking 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Caterina.net: Singletasking
"Sent to me by my friend David Kidder, and guiding my workdays, as much as possible. I'm not sure where it's from."

[Linkrot, so try Wayback: http://web.archive.org/web/20120119210114/http://caterina.net/archive/001158.html ]
via:preoccupations  multitasking  singletasking  discipline  attention  management  gtd  flow  productivity  work  email  life  distraction  continuouspartialattention  monotasking 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Digital Overload Is Frying Our Brains | Wired Science from Wired.com
"Paying attention isn't a simple act of self-discipline, but a cognitive ability with deep neurobiological roots — and this complex faculty, says Maggie Jackson, is being woefully undermined by how we're living.

In Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age, Jackson explores the effects of "our high-speed, overloaded, split-focus and even cybercentric society" on attention. It's not a pretty picture: a never-ending stream of phone calls, e-mails, instant messages, text messages and tweets is part of an institutionalized culture of interruption, and makes it hard to concentrate and think creatively. Of course, every modern age is troubled by its new technologies. "The telegraph might have done just as much to the psyche [of] Victorians as the Blackberry does to us," said Jackson. "But at the same time, that doesn't mean that nothing has changed. The question is, how do we confront our own challenges?" Wired.com talked to Jackson about attention and its loss."
education  technology  attention  multitasking  singletasking  continuouspartialattention  overload  infooverload  brain  twitter  gtd  computers  productivity  creativity  psychology  memory  distraction  culture  society  neuroscience  stress  maggiejackson  monotasking 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Productivity 2.0: How the New Rules of Work Are Changing the Game | Zen Habits
"1. Don’t Crank - Work With Deeper Focus. 2. Toss Out Meetings and Planning — Just Start. 3. Paperwork is out — automate with technology. 4. Don’t multi-task — multi-project and single-task. 5. Produce less, not more. 6. Forget about organization — use technology. 7. Out with hierarchies — in with freedom. 8. Work fewer hours, not more."
work  workplace  management  administration  leadership  focus  multitasking  singletasking  planning  meetings  efficiency  paperless  organization  productivity  qualityoflife  monotasking 
october 2008 by robertogreco
The Myth of Multitasking
"According to Brain Rules by John Medina, multi-tasking is a myth...multitaskers will take twice as long to accomplish task and they’ll have twice the error rate of single taskers."

[see also: http://youtube.com/watch?v=xO_oEGHWSMU ]

[ http://brainrules.blogspot.com/2008/03/brain-cannot-multitask_16.html ]
johnmedina  multitasking  singletasking  continuouspartialattention  productivity  brain  research  learning  attention  monotasking 
june 2008 by robertogreco
The Art of Zen Living » Singletasking
"[Multitasking] usually means is the ability to have several things going on at once, none of which get done as well as they should, and some of them get left half finished and forgotten."
singletasking  multitasking  continuouspartialattention  simplicity  slow  monotasking 
may 2008 by robertogreco
reboot10 - Singletasking for Multitaskers
"This will give us insights into some things specifically human: A perspective onto what consciousness is, how our mind works and who we are."
singletasking  multitasking  continuouspartialattention  simplicity  slow  monotasking 
may 2008 by robertogreco

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