If you’ve tried multitasking but the concept isn’t working for you—that may be a good thing. Taking mindful action on a singular task turns out to be far more productive and rewarding. In fact, multitasking can actually have negative, (even long-term) effects on your brain.
Mind Your Business
Many of us think that we’re saving time doing several things all at the same time. And for some, there’s a feeling of accomplishment getting a few tasks done simultaneously. A handful of studies, however, are negating positive results from multitasking. They are proving it isn’t the way to achieve optimum results.
Focusing on one objective with commitment and care would be considered mindful. Mindful action appears to derive far more efficient and effective results. Switching from one task to another can create disorganization and also slows down “thinking” time. Information from one task to another can become convoluted, and the brain takes time to process and differentiate.
Multitasking and Mental Stress
In this day and age of electronic communication, it’s almost impossible not to try and multitask. Between your computer and phone, reading, responding, and sending texts, messages, and emails can be all-consuming. And we may think we can do it all at once. But studies are showing we can’t—at least not effectively.
A big study out of Stanford University showed that those inundated with tons of electronic information have difficulty with mental recall and the ability to attend. Proper attention to each task wanes, as does appropriate communication. Additionally, these folks have trouble switching from one task to another (because the brain needs time to switch gears.)
That particular study also provided data suggesting that multitaskers produce work of lesser quality than those who focus on one single task at a time. They were also more unorganized, and, ultimately slower getting everything done.
The irony is that the multitaskers think they’re getting a lot done, but when push comes to shove, it’s the single-track focused who produce superiorly.
Can Multitasking Lower Your Intelligence?
Another study out of the University of London tested IQ scores of multitaskers and single-focus participants before and during their activity. Those who attempted two or more activities simultaneously experienced drops of up to 15 IQ points during cognitive tasks.
The University of Sussex also conducted a study. Researchers compared MRI scans of those who spent time on multiple electronics concurrently with those who did not. The multitaskers were found to have less brain density in the region reigning over cognitive and emotional control. Empathy levels were also shown to be lower in those who multitasked.
Perhaps it’s a wise suggestion to be mindful at work (public or private.) It is definitely worth attempting the one-task-at-one-time theory of success. This theory of reaping better results can be applicable to our efforts in the workplace as well as to our interactions (and success) in relationships.
Here are some ideas for increasing success through single-tasking:
Prioritize. Make lists of what is crucial and what can wait. Not everything is of dire importance. Once you’ve numbered your tasks, start with #1. Begin with that selection and follow-through until it’s complete. When it’s done, cross it off and move onto the next.
Avoid checking other electronic devices. If you are composing an email on your computer, refrain from checking the texts on your phone. Stick to one job at a time. Unless you are waiting for an incredibly important call or text, it can wait until you finish your original task.
Put down your electronics when you are meeting with someone. If you’re in a meeting (business or personal), the person you’re with deserves your full attention. You don’t need the distraction, and the other person doesn’t need to feel unimportant.
Take notes or excuse yourself. If something comes to mind, write it down quickly, as an aside. No need to interrupt your conversation or composure to switch gears. Make a note and deal with it when you’ve completed the task at hand. If an important call comes in, excuse yourself momentarily. If it can wait, let it. One thing at a time…
Reward yourself with breaks. If you’re in the midst of a stressful assignment, allow yourself a minute to grab some fresh air, a glass of water, or even a brief stroll. Getting up and moving around allows you to recharge. Just don’t get distracted and get involved with another task. Simply take your well-deserved break and then get back to completing what you started.
For other tips and up-to-date details about ways to improve your life, check out www.GetThrive.com