In this month’s vlog, I talk about the dangers of multitasking on an hourly/daily basis and with too many priorities and goals.
While our culture tells us that women are the best multitaskers, most of the time, multitasking can be counterproductive based on the following:
1. Your tasks are not getting your full attention, even though they all need and deserve it.
2. You’re not able to focus and make progress on one task at a time because you keep switching between tasks and try to focus on too many things at once.
3. Your body physically reacts to rapid task-switching as you try to juggle too many balls at once. This adrenaline rush actually hurts your concentration even more.
Tips to help focus
If you’re falling into this multitasking pattern, here are some tips for practicing focus instead.
- Write a prioritized to-do list. Start with a brain dump, and then take the time to actually prioritize the first 5-10 goals/projects/tasks so that you can work on them in order. Doing this helps you focus on one specific task at a time and gives you the satisfaction of ticking it off the list when done.
- Only purchase, open, or pull out the supplies related to the task at hand. This is true whether you’re working on a creative project, learning a new skill, tackling an organizing project, or working on your computer. A cluttered workspace creates anxiety; the greater the stress, the less productive you will be. Prepare for each task by gathering the necessary items and putting others away when they aren’t required to move on to the next item on the to-do list.
- Make a note of any other tasks you think of for later. Do not stop what you’re doing to take care of it, even if it would only take a couple of minutes. The goal is to practice focusing and get out of the habit of being distracted by “shiny object syndrome.” Numerous activities and tools are available to help training your brain to focus on one thing at a time. Our brains could act similarly to how an internet browser slows down when too many tabs are active at the same time.
- For larger projects, set smaller goals and focus on those one at a time. It can be hard to stay focused if your goal or project is too big, so break them down into smaller tasks and take breaks between them. The smaller chunks of information allow the brain to comprehend that section before moving on to the next. Our brains and bodies can become overwhelmed if there is no rest between activities, so for this reason, take as many breaks as needed to keep the mind sharp.
- Find a designated spot or time for your project. Whether you’re working on the computer, testing recipes, or pursuing a craft, setting a time and place for your “work” is a good way to mentally remind yourself that it’s time to focus. Having these time intervals for each work organizes the day and keeps the mind concentrated on the task until completion. A timetable stops individuals from overloading their daily schedules.
- Remove distractions. Silence the alerts on your phone, close social media sites, and turn off the TV. When it’s time to focus, take time to remove the distractions from your environment ahead of time so that they won’t distract you. Although background music or something similar may help some people focus, if it is too distracting for you, remove those annoyances for clearer thinking.
- Commit to refocusing. If you’ve ever burned dinner because you got distracted by folding the laundry or reorganizing a cabinet, you know that it’s not just technology that distracts us. Focus takes practice, and sometimes you just have to do the hard work of refocusing when your mind starts to wander. If you know you’re likely to get distracted, set a timer to pull your attention back to the task at hand. Consciously pay attention to when you lose focus and train your brain to refocus even when it’s not easy.
It takes time to break the multitasking habit, but focusing on one thing at a time is a good way to get more done and make the most of your time!
Activities & Questions
- How easy or hard is it for you to focus on one thing at a time?
- Do you feel more productive when you’re multitasking? Do you think you actually are more productive or do you believe that it ultimately slows you down?
- What are your biggest distractions when you’re trying to focus?
Featured Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay