So you think you can multi-task?

Love to multi-task?

Seems a Stanford University psychology professor noticed a lot of people multi-tasking, something that he understood to be impossible because of how our brains function. And yet, here were people all around him, talking on cell-phones while surfing the web and carrying on a conversations across the table and….

You get the picture. Everyone seems to be doing it these days. You’ve probably done it yourself. More than once.

So the professor and his pals got curious.

How could this be? Were our brains being re-wired by technology? Was this another step in our development as human beings?

To find some answers, he and his students created a series of simple tests. What they discovered was fascinating and went completely opposite to what you may have expected.

It seems that people who are HMM (research jargon for Heavy Media Multitasker) do not pay attention, cannot control their memory and cannot switch easily from one job to another as adeptly as people who concentrate on one job at a time.

Multi-task = stressBasically we’re assaulting our brain with so much information that it becomes overloaded and can’t cope. We lose the ability to filter out the unimportant and irrelevant.

Can you spell s-t-r-e-s-s?

“High multi-taskers can’t keep things separate in their minds.”

Heavy multi-taskers can't keep things separate in their minds Click To Tweet

Is it any wonder we feel  ‘information overload’?

The remedy?

“Try to do less,” Professor Ophir said, which is something that he does in his own life. “You can check your e-mail, but make sure you have periods of focus. Cut to your calendar later.”

We think we’re being productive when in reality, we’re not.  So I decided to try my own experiment.

For one week I focused on single tasking

First, I made a list of things I needed to accomplish and then went through the list ONE THING AT A TIME. What I found was this –

I had to re-learn the skill of focusing so there were a lot of false starts and stops. However, as the week went on, I got more accomplished and I FELT that accomplishment. Somewhere by the third day, I lost the uneasy feeling I was dropping the ball somewhere.

I challenge you to give ‘focus’ a try

If you want to read more about the study click here. It’s fascinating! (You might want to send the link to your boss, too. )

Periodically, I offer a free webinar to talk about focus and give practical tips for developing your own focus. If you’d like to know when I host the next webinar, simply enter your email blow.

 

 

 

 

 

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