How often during your day do you multitask?
Do you try to be across more than one thing at a time to save time and get more done?
If you answered “yes” you aren’t alone. Most of us in an attempt to power through more tasks try to do more than one thing at a time and end up multi-tasking like crazy.
What you may not know is that structuring your working day like this is actually holding you back from being as productive as you could be.
You may have heard, but the latest in neuroscience is showing that multitasking itself is actually a myth.
When you think you are doing two things at once, what is actually happening is that your brain is moving back and forth between the tasks.
You are “task-switching” not multi-tasking.
The reality is you can only focus on one thing at a time, so when you attempt to multi-task you are simply dividing your focus.
Dividing your focus also divides your productivity.
Multi-Tasking and Your Brain
What the neuroscience community has discovered is that our prefrontal cortex, the part of our brain that’s involved in planning, decision making and critical thinking, slows down when it is required to “task-switch”.
What this means from a business point of view is that the more you divide your focus by trying to do more than one thing at a time, the longer it takes to get your tasks done!
So while you are trying to be more productive by multi-tasking, you are actually doing the opposite.
Not only does “multi-tasking” take you longer to complete tasks, but it also exhausts your brain and a tired brain starts to make mistakes and it becomes even harder to think clearly, critically and creatively.
An exhausted brain also starts to impact on your mood and motivation.
Your Feel Good Brain Chemical
Have you ever got to the end of a super busy day where you have attempted to be across many areas of your business and thought, “I am so exhausted!” You may also look at what you have accomplished and think, “I haven’t got through as much as I think I should have.”
Feeling exhausted and unproductive affects how you feel about your progress and can impact how motivated you feel to keep tracking towards your business goals. This is partly due to a lack of dopamine in your brain, one of your feel good and motivating brain chemicals, a topic I will cover in future blogs.
Trying to do multiple things at once is stopping your brain from working quickly and effectively, which in turn is costing you faster progress, motivation and your wellbeing.
So what can you do to stop multi-tasking?
Re-Train Your Brain To Focus
I share some really great strategies in my 6-week online program, but today I wanted to share with you a few tips and tricks that you can use to start bringing more focus into your day.
So let’s jump in.
1. Reduce Distractions
The very first thing is that most of us have actually wired our brain to be constantly distracted, so actually learning how to focus takes a bit of practice. Studies are showing that most of us can’t focus for more than about 3 to 5 minutes before we start multitasking.
We can help our brain to not be distracted by:
- shutting down extra tabs on your computer
- turning off notifications
- switching your mobile phone off for periods of time
- not having social media and emails open 24/7.
All of these habits make it harder for your brain to focus and often lead to multi-tasking.
2. Set A Timer
The second thing that you can do is set chunks of time where you’ve got a defined amount of time that you’re requiring your brain to focus. I will go into more detail on this in future videos, but one of the strategies you can use is to set a timer.
It’s really, really simple.
I use a 30-minute timer and in that time I shut down as many distractions as I can and I focus my brain on one task. I’m not multitasking; I’m focusing on just one thing. It is absolutely amazing what you can get done in 30 minutes of focused time!
If 30 minutes is a little bit too long for you because your brain is so used to responding to all the distractions around you, then start at 15 minutes and build up.
So your challenge today is to stop multitasking, by reducing distractions and committing to a 30-minute focus block today, whether it’s one 30-minute block or three 10-minute blocks. I can guarantee you will start to see amazing results!
Share your experience in the comments section. I would love to hear from you!
I will see you in the next video with more tips and tricks on how you can actually work smarter and not harder.