We live with technology all around us; phones in our pockets or purses, tablets on the nightstand, and computers at home and at work. This technology has created a sense of urgency with every beep, ring, and buzz. It’s no wonder we can’t focus and complete our daily tasks.
Multi Tasking Is A Myth
We’ve all heard of multi-tasking, the idea that we can do more than one thing at the same time. The reality is that our brains can’t actually multi-task, they can only toggle, which is switching between tasks rapidly.
It’s hard to focus when you’re constantly asking your brain to switch gears. Imagine if that happened to you at work; two people bombarding you with questions and documents, and you’re trying to help both of them as quickly as possible. That’s what you’re asking your brain to do on an hourly basis with the windows on the computer, or the apps on your phone, the constant checking is pulling your brain from one task and forcing it onto another.
This exercise provides a good example of what happens when you try to do two tasks at once that use the same part of your brain:
- Take a sheet of paper and draw two lines on it.
- Time yourself while you write “I am a great multitasker” on the first line, and then write the numbers 1–20 on the second line.
- Now draw two more lines.
- This time, time yourself doing the two tasks simultaneously. Write a letter from the sentence “I am a great multitasker” on line one, then write the number “1” on line two. Then write the next letter of the sentence on line one, and then “2” on line two. Continue until you’ve completed both tasks.
You probably won’t even have to finish both tasks and check your time to prove how much our work suffers from multitasking. No doubt you’ll find yourself frustrated during the second part of this example and you’ll notice how much slower you’re working without even looking at your timer.
This example shows what happens when we attempt to multitask. Our brain uses up time and effort each time we switch between two (or more) tasks, so we end up being much slower overall. Research has also shown that this process of constantly switching can lead to worse performance than if we allow the brain to focus on just one task at a time.
YOU ARE ON SENSORY OVERLOAD
- Whether you notice it or not, the constant dinging of devices, background noises, sirens, or chatter of co-workers create sensory overload.
- Your brain has to process and filter all this stimuli to figure out which ones to pay attention to and which ones are really in the background.
At the end of the day do you often feel stressed or burned out, on top of out of focus?
That’s because of the daily multi-tasking and sensory overload. Our brains can only handle so much, and the more we throw at it, the more our stress hormones increase.
It’s gotten so bad that it’s hard for anyone to do just one task. When we try to focus on one thing, like just walking down the hall, our brain struggles looking for that adrenaline we get every time we check our phones.
WE ARE ADDICTED TO MULTIPLE IMPULSE
We’ve become addicted to multiple stimuli at one time, making it impossible to focus on just one thing. The only way to get away from this cycle is to remember that you have a choice.
You don’t have to answer every email or phone call as soon as it comes in. By prioritizing your tasks and taking frequent breaks you will avoid losing focus and feeling stressed. The most successful people know how to balance all this input and remember that not everything is as urgent as it may seem.
Adios Amigos Xoxo