Monotasking leads to greater productivity

This week on The Pete the Planner® Radio Show on 93 WIBC I had a very interesting conversation with Drake Baer, a contributing writer for Fast Company. We discussed productivity and how the brain works. It figuratively blew my mind. Listen to the clip below, courtesy of 93 WIBC.

‘Productivity’ has been a buzz word for decades now, but it seems like we are still searching for the answer on how to get better at it. Drake Baer suggested that we are no longer just looking for ways to get more out of our time, but also more out of ourselves. In an attempt to be more productive we do more. We have thirteen tabs open on two different browsers, using both our laptop and desktop. We attempt to accomplish more by doing more, all at the same time. Maybe you’ve heard of this phenomenon, it’s called multi-tasking. I am as guilty of this as anyone. Just the other day I was attempting to write three articles, on three separate topics no less, at the same time. Even as I was doing it I knew it was ridiculous but I was tricking myself into feeling more productive. That is the thing about multitasking, it makes you feel confident about being productive even though you are in fact, less so. We’ve all heard stories, and hopefully never experienced, the person that is driving and texting that runs a red light. We all say we would never be that person but put us in an office and we’ll double the amount of tasks that we think we can accomplish at the same time.

Drake brought up neuroplasticity which is the science relating to our changing brains and it’s connection to productivity. Our habits and patterns can actually affect the way our brains function. If our goal is breakthrough ideas and to have a longer attention span, we will have to change our habits. So what can we do to create a more productive brain? We must learn to monotask. By blocking out time and distractions and working on one project at a time we can teach our brain to be more focused. Don’t limit the practice of monotasking for just at work, learning to clear our brains can be practiced in our down time as well. Just reading a physical book can help us retain more information. Running, yoga, and of course mindful meditation can all lead to a stronger, more productive brain.

Another interesting thing Drake brought up is the uniqueness of our brains, more unique in fact than our fingerprints. All of our brains have unique patterns and rhythms. I’ve found that I am most productive between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. I actually don’t enjoy getting up that early, but since I’ve recognized that I do my best work then, I make it a priority to get up and work anyway. Drake agreed with me and suggested that in order to know your own pattern you should take stock of your day. For a few weeks write down when you were at your peak on that day and over time you will see a pattern emerge. When you find your peak time, then you can prioritize your most important tasks to be done at that time.

I loved this conversation. I love learning more about my brain and how to be more productive. So what does this have to do with budgeting and financial wellness? Nothing specifically, but in the grand scheme of things, a lot! Maybe whenever you begin to budget you open up every bank account you have online, three spreadsheets, and every physical receipt from the last six months. No wonder you are suffering from financial stress! Budgeting can be a monotask but if you are just starting out, getting overwhelmed will just discourage you. Start with one category, housing for example, and focus your attention on that category. Take stock of what are spending in that area and then move on to the next. Remember, the more we load into our brains the less aware we are of what we are doing and how well we are doing those tasks, so simplify.

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