Is It Good to Multitask?

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.

-Aristotle

In our everyday lives, we look for ways to redeem the time. Multitasking comes to the rescue when we are ladened with endless chores/projects/assignments.

However, does our brain really equipped to multi-task? It entirely depends on the kind of task we are engaged in-two challenging task-brain says-oh no! Not again! I might cease. The brain persists on a single task, but we scarcely listen to the signals shown by the brain. Why should we? For we are busier bombarding our brain!! For most of us, our brain has a magic wand that can cope with an unlimited burden. But in reality, that is not the case-doing many things together breaks us down.

Allow yourself to look at a few day-to-day situations of multi-tasking such alike listening to music while cooking, folding the clothes while talking over the phone. While performing such a trivial piece of work, we hardly encounter any trouble multitasking. However, ditto cannot be assured for chores involving similar sense organs-will you prefer to listen to loud music while talking over a phone? Most probably- you might say no as our brain gets confused about where to focus and how to focus in such situations.

Photo by Peter Fazekas on Pexels.com

You must have noticed that while driving a vehicle, we try to avoid holding the phone in hand to talk-why so? We shield the brain from getting confused by using the hand only for driving. Therefore, the chosen task to perform simultaneously depends entirely on the kind and difficulty level of the task at hand-thus it is alright to fold clothes while watching television however, it is not acceptable to use hands to hold mobile while driving.

In Ikigai, while reflecting upon the strategies to achieve the flow in everything you do, one most important factor to consider is concentrating on a single task. It is mentioned that concentrating on one thing at a time may be the single most important factor in achieving flow.

While a lifestyle without technology is inconceivable in present times, the list of distractions that comes along is also boundless. Consequently, it is one of the mediums to refrain from focusing on only one task. While doing our work notification beeps compel us to leave the task at hand to check the phone repeatedly as if our action is not controlled by us but by the notification beeps. While scrolling from one app to another, it culminates into chatting with a friend who pinged. In consequence, the task at hand took the back seat. In a blink of an eye, a few hours have gone by. We failed to keep sight of time mounting to anxiousness and guilt.

HOW BOTH DIFFERS

                               

 Source-IKIGAI-The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

WHAT RESEARCH EVIDENCE SAYS

We often think that combining tasks saves time, but scientific evidence shows that it has the opposite effect. It reduces our productivity.

Our brain can take in millions of bits of information but can actually process a few dozen per second. When we say we’re multitasking, what we are really doing is switching back and forth between tasks quickly. Unfortunately, we are not computers adept at parallel processing. We end up spending all our energy alternating between tasks, instead of focusing on doing one of them all.

Research also puts its vote in favour of one task at a time as a better thing to do. Our brain isn’t wired to work on multiple complex tasks simultaneously. Research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time.

WHAT WE CAN DO TO TRAIN OUR BRAIN TO FOCUS ON A SINGLE TASK

According to Csikszentmihalyi, in order to focus on a task, we need:

  1. To be in a distraction-free environment
  2. To have control over what we are doing at every moment

Technology is great if we are in control. It’s not so great if it takes control of us. Several studies conducted at Stanford University by Clifford Ivar Nass describe our generation as suffering from an epidemic of multitasking.

When almost everyone is occupied-who has time to engage in one task at a time? Nevertheless, we need to consider if the brain surrenders, then how to manoeuvre it? For this, we might need to remodel the way we perceive our lives.

  • Recognize the difference

Swinging back and forth =Need of a fast-paced life (it’s not a need)

One task at a time = slow-paced life of reflection. It helps us to focus better (required to  

enhance the quality of life)

  • Crucial first hour

  Don’t launch as well as finish your day glancing at the screen of any sort.

  • Say no to beeps

While doing a task, turn off your beeps or put your mobile on do not disturb mode allowing only essential calls to communicate with if an emergency arises.

  • Assign time slot

If you have 40 min to finish two equally challenging tasks, then divide the time equally. Focus on only one piece of work for 20 min, then switch to the next task for the remaining 20 min. Using this process, you are doing both the assignment, however not simultaneously.

  • Gadget free day

Assign a day in a week (maybe Saturday or Sunday) as a technology fasting day.

  • Bundle a routine task

Paying bills, making a call, checking mails etc.- do them all at once.

  • Find the right venue

In case your immediate surrounding distracts you, keep looking for the right place until you find one. It is a place where you will not be distracted-where you can focus on a single task.

  • Imbibe in your daily life 

Practice mindfulness-based meditation and activities in your day-to-day life to help you stay focused and stress-free whenever you are getting distracted.

If we listen to our mind and body attentively, we might realize that it always gives us prior warning/signals in some or another way. It offers enough hints, which we are required to listen to-to lead healthy, happy and stress-free lives.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

                                               

If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one

-Russian Proverb

                                                   

Thanks for visiting my page. Please feel free to share, like & comment.

Happy Reading 🙂

Best Wishes-

Pallavi Sahu

Rehabilitation Psychologist 

Reference- IKIGAI-The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by HECTOR GARCIA AND FRANCESC MIRALLES

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