Why it's best to stop multitasking and how

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Do you believe you achieve more by multitasking? How often do you feel that the only way to get through your workload and other commitments is to juggle several things at the same time? Therefore you might be surprised to learn that recent research has found that the brain is not designed for multitasking and can only focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking affects your cognitive functioning and our brains ability to process or retain information. 

It has been proved by researchers at Stanford University that multitasking reduces your ability to focus, complete tasks efficiently and is less productive than doing one thing at a time. It also increases stress levels and can lead to anxiety, brain fog and poor decision making. The researches at Stanford found that even people who felt they were skilled at multitasking, and thought it made them perform better, were actually worse at multitasking than people who choose to do one thing at a time. Splitting your attention, being constantly interrupted and distracted affects your ability to think with insight and clarity.

At Sussex University, the neuroscientist Kep Kee Loh researched whether cognitive impairment from multitasking was temporary, but he found that individuals who repeatedly multitask had less brain density in the part of the brain that is responsible for empathy and emotional control. Research is ongoing but it is interesting that multitasking in meetings or social gatherings, such as messaging, checking emails or looking at webpages, while you are conversing with someone, demonstrates low self-awareness and social awareness. Both of these emotional intelligence skills are essential for resilience, building relationships and success in your personal and professional life.

Here are 5 ways to help you to single task and improve your efficiency and resilience, have a better memory, increased productivity, more focus and a better quality of life and work. I hope you find them helpful.

  • Self-awareness is the first step to changing a habit of multitasking. Prioritise your tasks and complete one at a time. Utilise the power of repetition and routine to train your brain to change to a habit of single tasking.
  • Concentrate on doing one thing at a time and enjoy the satisfaction of being in the "flow" or "in the zone," when you are consciously engaged in whatever you are doing. Experience a great deal of satisfaction and fulfilment by completing the task successfully and to the best of your ability.
  • Focus for an hour at a time on a task and plan short regular breaks during the day to refresh and renew. Move away from your devices and resist from checking social media. Take a walk away from your desk, outside if possible, without your device and be aware of and enjoy your change of environment.
  • Stop using your devices and other distractions when talking or listening to someone. Be mindful, be present and give them your full attention.
  • Multitasking is opposite to mindfulness. By focusing on one thing at a time and being in the present and mindful is good at helping the mind and body to relax and de-stress and will increase your resilience and wellbeing.



 

Katherine Darbyshire Evans

Resilience and Wellbeing Coach for Owners of Small Businesess, Finer Thinking

I help female business owners build their resilience to manage the negative effects of stress and prevent burnout. By building your resilience you will be able to remain flexible in your thoughts, behaviours and emotions when under stress. Running a small business, whether or not you employ people or not is often isolating and very challenging at times. You can easily become overwhelmed by the workload, constant change and the responsibility it involves. Stress and burnout can creep up on you and I understand what that's like that having personally experienced burnout in my twenties. I have also experienced some major challenges and changes in my life, including redundancy, severe injury and divorce so I appreciate and value the importance and benefits of developing resilience and self-care. Women want to manage their lives better, both practically and emotionally and reduce the impact stress has on them, whilst achieving their goals and aspirations. As an owner and manager of people it is important that you create an environment where you, your people and the business can flourish and thrive and that requires focusing on creating a culture of resilience and wellbeing. As an experienced coach, with over 20 years in the fashion industry at director level, I help and support women to explore and understand the real underlying causes of their stress that undermines their resilience and help them learn the skills to manage their thoughts, feelings and behaviours in a powerful and sustainable way. This enables them to strengthen their resilience and increase their self-esteem so they can more confidently deal with the challenges that life throws their way. In addition to I speak on resilience and wellbeing to women's development groups and also write articles on the subject. I am also a Worth-it Consultant passionate about the need to build resilience in children and young people as part of the education curriculum to help them learn the skills needed for their mental health and wellbeing in an ever challenging and fast paced world.

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