We are learning more than ever about what makes for smart work. Scientists and productivity experts are singing the praises of doing one thing at a time, even advocating daydreaming and vacation as ways to be more focused. With all this new research some are starting to ask, what if we could get more done by doing less?
“When you switch away from a primary task to do something else, you’re increasing the time it takes to finish that task by an average of 25 per cent” (Harvard Business Review).
“Our daydreams seem to serve a similar function as night dreams, facilitating bursts of creative insight…”we always assume that you get more done when you’re constantly paying attention to a problem…but this is often a mistake. If you’re trying to solve a complex problem, then you need to give yourself a real break, to let the mind incubate the problem all by itself. We shouldn’t be so afraid to actually take some time off” (The New Yorker).
“Scientists say juggling e-mail, phone calls and other incoming information can change how people think and behave. They say our ability to focus is being undermined by bursts of information… While many people say multitasking makes them more productive, research shows otherwise. Heavy multitaskers actually have more trouble focusing and shutting out irrelevant information, scientists say, and they experience more stress” (New York Times).
How can we continue to protect and support the contexts that allow for the best work to happen?