Work Smarter//

Try This Now: Use the One Screen Rule to Improve Your Focus

Just like multitasking, "multiscreening" can make it harder to keep your brain on the right track.

Artie Medvedev / Shutterstock
Artie Medvedev / Shutterstock

Checking email on your tablet, scrolling through social media on your phone, and tending to pressing work tasks and spreadsheets on your computer monitor is enticing — at first, you may feel like you’re doing it all. But the truth is, multitasking, or “multiscreening,” won’t help you get ahead at work. Bouncing between your devices, in reality, will only make it harder to find (and keep) your focus

While studies have shown that having more screen area (in other words, using two monitors connected to the same computer) can boost productivity, using several devices for different tasks can lead to problems with attention, and decrease productivity by up to 40 percent, Daniel Amen, M.D., a clinical neuroscientist and psychiatrist, writes

And knowing that a single notification has the power to decrease focus and prompt mind-wandering, you definitely shouldn’t be slacking and scrolling on all of your devices at once — what would happen if those pings and dings started coming through on each of them? Plus, when you’re interrupted from work (oh hi there, Instagram), research shows it can take nearly 25 minutes to get back on track. Try sticking to the “single-screen rule” by using one device at a time, Amen suggests. That way, you’ll stay on task and limit distractions. While you’re at it, use the “Do Not Disturb” button on your devices that aren’t in use. Your brain will thank you. 

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