Multi tasking is a myth, no matter how much you want to believe you can, no matter how much your boss insists it is real, your brain (and science) know it is a myth. What we are becoming increasingly and incredibly skilled at is really called micro-tasking, but this may not be the best habit it get into. It can reduce our cognitive function in certain areas such as focus and concentration, it can also impact on our ability to feel responses to certain tasks and heighten the production of our stress and anxiety chemicals.
Our world is full of fast information, while watching the news you are reading the headlines scrolling under the presenters head, are you listening or reading? You can’t do both. In reality you are taking in tiny amounts of information broken down into short bursts or factoids. The same is true of scrolling on Twitter or Facebook, just quick sentences, no focus, no depth, information without context or knowledge. Even TV shows are broken up into 12 minute bursts with adverts, which in themselves are short burst of multiple information.
At work you jump between phone calls, emails, back to a conversation, back to the email, back to the ringing phone, back to the database. You haven’t focused on one task or completed it, just bounced around and possibly lost track. This is why we feel frustrated, it is why we feel we never achieve anything, its why we can’t remember if we have done something or not.
For example if I were to stop typing now and answer the phone, then come back to typing this, then see a client, I would probably take 3 times longer and make more mistakes than if I just concentrate for a short period of time and complete the task. Each time I return to the work I will need to read what I was writing before to remember where I left off and remember what I wanted to say. I would lose flow and continuity. I would make my life more difficult.
Not only are we making more work for ourselves, we are damaging our ability to focus, we lose the skill of concentration, our minds reprogram themselves and we wonder why we can’t settle down to a 2 hour movie or to read a book without fidgeting or pressing pause or getting distracted by checking our phones. In fact some people will have got bored after the headline and picture and not made it this far!
I am not saying that microtasking is not a fantastic skill, I think it is one that has many good points, especially in certain environments (driving, certain sports or military roles are good examples) what I am trying to encourage is that we balance our skill sets, we train our brains to do both, don’t neglect your monotasking, long focus skills.
If you would like help with your micro or mono tasking or counselling for any other reason please do contact Wright Minds at email@example.com or on 07598810304