The lie of multitasking and why you need to stop
If you think that multi-tasking is an indicator of efficiency and smartness, then this is the article for you!! Actually, multitasking is a bad idea; rather, frequent multitasking shrinks your brain and lowers your IQ. And wait, there is more….well, far from saving you time, multitasking cuts your productivity by a whopping 40 percent! That’s because as you switch from task to task, your brain reacts to the feeling of newness with a jolt of dopamine – the same brain chemical that causes heroin addiction.
A frightening discovery
You may think you’re taking part in a conference call, writing a report, and texting home all at the same time, but what your brain is actually doing is switching non-stop among these different activities. That’s costing you both efficiency and brain cells. Multitasking lowers your IQ, shrinks your brain, and cuts your productivity – and it’s addictive. Here’s how to stop for good…
A few more facts
What multi-taskers do not realise is that they are actually devolving their brain. Rather than following our ancestors’ lead by training the brain to learn and be creative through deep focus, they are actually following the path of the side-sighted animals. By multi-tasking, they are attempting to apply the logic of their limbic system – which can only handle simple problems like 10×5 – to much more complicated tasks. This can be extremely dangerous…
The damages of multi-tasking
Not only will this lead to low-quality work, but it will also strengthen the limbic system, which also motivates us to indulge in unhealthy food, give up on challenging tasks and skip our workouts. Essentially, the more you multi-task, the weaker your willpower becomes.
Multi-tasking is distracting
These days, most of us are our own secretaries. The filter is gone and while we can choose whether or not to answer a particular call, e-mail or text, just making that decision requires multi-tasking. It reduces our attention to whatever our pre-frontal cortex was doing before the interruption, and studies show it can cause us to be as much as 40 percent less productive.
How to stop multitasking and get work done
The myth persists, however, that multitasking is the best way to work. Peruse any job website and you’ll find literally thousands of descriptions making it clear that those who can’t handle “multitasking” need not apply. There is little to no scientific proof that multitasking enhances performance, and real evidence that dividing one’s attention might actually be detrimental. Here’s how to get rid of the habit of multi-tasking…
Give yourself permission to think and be alone
Your best ideas and deepest insights will come when detached from your everyday routine. Seek alone time and keep it sacred on your calendar. Remember, companies hire employees to help animate and implement their ideas. The real purpose of your employment lies in your intellectual capital: the thoughts you have and the ideas you generate. Multitasking only detracts from this.
Do one thing at a time
Contrary to the multitasker’s creed, you’ll actually get more tasks done by doing them individually. Not just that, you’ll do it quicker and with fewer mistakes and less rework.
Be present with your work and with those you are working with. Stay on your current todo and don’t let your focus float to other tasks. This means not checking email while you are meeting with someone. And it means not working during that meeting on your laptop.
Finish before you start
Make sure you finish tasks to closure before starting the next one. There is great productivity momentum in finishing things to done before taking on the next task. Don’t let small tasks interrupt big ones Resist letting small items interrupt big ones. Don’t pick up that 2-minute task just because it’s easy. Don’t answer that email just because you saw it drop into your inbox.
Put down the tech
Technology has allowed us to work anywhere. That doesn’t mean you should. Close your email, turn off the phone, and put down the unneeded tech while you are working.
Learn how to improve your concentration
Doing this may feel awkward at first if you frequently multitask. But you’ll be surprised at how much you get done just by concentrating on one thing at a time.Designate time to work on one task or project. Go to a meeting room or work location if it helps concentrate on the task at hand.
Group similar tasks
It is easier to write 15 checks at once than it is to write one check 15 times. So, group your bill paying into a single block of time. Check your email at certain times, resisting the temptation to switch windows as soon as you receive a new one. While there are always important items on the agenda, every email can wait for a few minutes before you respond.
Commit to your choices
Single-tasking obliges you to do one thing at a time—excluding any other demands at that moment. This means you must stand firm and genuinely commit to your choices. You can manage your next task after working on the existing one. You don’t have to complete every task all at once, just the current period of time dedicated to it.
Say No early, and often
Attempting to be all things to all people is more than unrealistic—it’s a recipe for disaster. It’s perfectly fine, even means you’re being responsible, not to respond to every request immediately. “No, I can’t right now” is not equivalent to “No, I won’t ever do it.” By saying no, you’ll be free from the constant frustration of half-finished tasks.
Ask others to call you out
Old habits die hard. From time to time, you’ll almost certainly go back to your old ways, reverting to task-switching. So ask your family, friends and co-workers to call you out. You may have myriad excuses for an exception. No matter, thank them for their vigilance.
Know what you’re going to do before you start doing it. If you have no clear path, distractions can come easily. Before starting a new task, take a few minutes to plan out the steps you’ll need to complete and in what order—that way, you’ll be less able to wander. An important step of goal setting? A quality to-do list!
Eat a good breakfast
Turns out, taking a second to chow down on a healthy breakfast can help boost concentration and focus. Bonus points if that meal includes some protein.
Studies suggest that regular meditation can boost brain function and is associated with better focus and attention. It can also help reduce stress when a massive to-do list is looming.
There are plenty of books available that will help you develop strategies for achieving better focus and deeper concentration. It may not be easy to quit, but science tells us that multitasking is not all it’s cracked up to be. Staying focused and concentrating on one task at a time is worth a shot.