If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me, “How do you manage to do so many activities at once and still manage to achieve good results?”. The answer to this is that I never focus on more than one activity at a time. Why? Because it simply isn’t possible to achieve any results while trying to do more at once. I am not trying to blow my own trumpet but simply stating facts and it’s time you know this too. So, today’s post is dedicated to getting you to focus on one thing at a time.
Multitasking is a myth!
The human brain isn’t functioned to perform multiple tasks at once. What is generally perceived as multitasking is actually the brain frantically switching from one task to the other. Numerous studies have shown that people who think they can split their attention between multiple tasks at once aren’t actually getting more done. In fact, they’re doing less, getting more stressed out, and performing worse than those who single-task.
Neuroscientists believe that the constant task-switching is exhausting and drains our energy levels by using the oxygenated glucose of our brain. Many other studies have found that excessive multitasking has severe consequences on our mental and physical well-being.
The modern workspace has people stuck between loops of checking emails, browsing social media and sifting through chats. In a 2010 study, Harvard psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert found that people spend almost 47% of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re currently doing.
Many philosophical and religious traditions teach that happiness is to be found by living in the moment, and practitioners are trained to resist mind wandering and to ‘be here now’. These traditions suggest that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.Killingsworth and Gilbert in the journal Science
Breaking the pattern:
Multitasking is addictive and it’s not easy to break the pattern even after you understand the cons of it. Mostly because it is hard to focus on one thing for a longer duration of time. That’s why our mind goes wandering about context-switching to get a hit of dopamine. But, there’s a workaround that I have always used to stop my brain from wandering off while performing a task. Follow the following 3-step plan:
1. List down all your tasks and create a priority list.
2. Get rid of any distractions.
3. Take breaks to allow your mind to relax between tasks.
Multi-achieving is a concept that has gained influence in the past couple of years. Focusing your attention to activities that create a larger impact. It is inspired from the 80 20 Rule also known as the Pareto Principle, named after its founder Vilfredo Pareto. Understanding the principle is essential to learning how to prioritize your tasks, days, weeks, and months.
The Pareto Principle is a concept that suggests 20% of all items, on any general to-do list, will turn out to be worth more than the other 80% of items put together. This generally means that you intentionally engage in activities that serve you in multiple ways or achieve multiple outcomes.
Even while to focus on multi-achieving, you might still have to perform the less impactful 80% of the activities. In order to do those, it is better to try batch processing. This means allocating certain times of the day to such activities. For instance, you can check and reply to your emails once or twice daily at fixed time slots. Although, do remember, It is important to prioritise the important tasks first.