Multi-tasking in our technology-overloaded lives is a given. Many of us still believe in the myth that we are more productive when we multi-task, but research studies prove us wrong. Single tasking, one focused assignment after the other, is the most effective method for accomplishment. Daily juggling dilutes, depletes, depresses and oh that stress! Then why do we still multi-task?
There are three basic reasons for multi-tasking:
- Technology overload plays havoc with focus and increases the need for distraction to self-soothe
- The more you multi-task, your brain gets used to the habit
- Multi-tasking gives you emotional rewards
Professor Zheng Wang from Ohio State University observed college students who were studying and watching TV at the same time. He concluded that the students seemed to be wrong about their perceptions regarding the positive feelings they received from multitasking. They were not being more productive like learning the material for the exam; in fact, watching TV impaired their studying, but they did feel more relaxed and entertained; Wang labels this as emotional satisfaction.
Surveys show that multi-tasking is here to stay even if it impairs productivity. This is analogous to those endless to-do lists we adhere to which ultimately leads to stress, exhaustion and a spirit-depleting lifestyle. However, this stressful habit which pulls us in different directions can be changed with awareness.
5 easy steps to greater productivity:
- Get back to basics, the ABC of things when you are doing more, but accomplishing less. Stop, breathe and simplify your execution.
- Find a hobby which is restorative because you are passionate about it. You will re-habituate to single-minded attention by letting your brain sense how good it feels.
- Create a technology free zone in the bedroom. Sleep is an important single task Ė so donít dilute and multi-task. Turn your cell phone off while you sleep. The artificial blue light wakes up the brain and the ping of a call, text or email is disruptive to sleep. Donít wake up with a sleep deficit because you will be stressed as soon as your day begins.
- Reset your natural rhythm periodically during the day Ė as easy as going outside, opening a window or keeping a plant on your desk.
- Be aware that you are not the best gauge of how impaired you are cognitively. You might be overriding fatigue, burn-out, distraction, and the inability to finish projects. Donít accept chronic stress as a norm. You donít always have to run and juggle at the same time. Put one foot in front of the other in your lifeís journey.
For more information on managing your stress and reclaiming your life read my book, Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life. To listen to archived radio shows with guest experts visit Turn On Your Inner Light Radio Show