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Adopt one-task-at-a-time habit

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Here’s the challenge for anyone trying to work more productively: Many supposedly smart, timesaving tips can backfire.

Take multitasking. It’s tempting to assume that doing two or more things at once can help you squeeze more productivity from your workday. But that’s wrong.

Stanford University researchers found that performing a single task with your full concentration is more productive than tackling two tasks simultaneously. They also determined that busy professionals who get interrupted by constant emails and other distractions cannot focus, retain information or hop from task to task as well as someone who blocks all interruptions and finishes one assignment at a time. Some people insist that they’re unusually skilled at multitasking.

The Stanford study concluded that frequent multitaskers who think they can handle two or more tasks at once were actually worse at multitasking than those who favor a one-thing-at-a-time approach.

Why did the multitaskers produce worse results? They struggled to organize their thoughts and screen out irrelevant information and were unable to switch from one task to another as seamlessly as the nonmultitaskers.

— Adapted from “Critical Things Productive People Do Differently,” Travis Bradberry, www.linkedin.com.

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