We do it all day, every day. We are multitaskers, jugglers of life! We pride ourselves and boast about our abilities to multitask. We can drive, talk, text, listen to the radio, eat, work, watch tv, and do about a billion other tasks simultaneously.
Bravo! (sound of a slow clap starting)
Wait… it’s not something we should be proud of?
My husband told me about an article he had read about how multitasking is actually very harmful and said some things about Attention Fragmentation. Like any good marriage, I waited a couple of weeks until I came up with a thought on my own, “I wonder if my multitasking is really bad for me?”, and I ran with the idea like it was my own!
I read an article talking about the affects of multitasking and the actual scientific studies and data behind it. Stanford did a study and concluded that people who give themselves a gold star in multitasking actually perform WORSE at multitasking than people who generally don’t. They had a harder time organizing their thoughts, sorting through irrelevant information and slower switching from task to task. Now, that doesn’t sound like successful multitasking to me. Another study done by the University of London found that frequent multitaskers IQ’s decline (similar to someone who’s stayed up all night or smoked marijuana)… We’re literally making ourselves dumb! Something that’s really disturbing about these studies, is they’re saying that this constant multitasking can cause permenent damage. The University of Sussex did a study where they compared MRI scans of the multitasker’s brains and found there to be less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region that is responsible for empathy, cognitive and emotional control.
It’s almost an addiction, checking to see if there’s a new email, texting, social media, etc. etc. I have found myself not being able to concentrate on tasks, feeling like my ability to remember things isn’t quite what it used to be. I also feel a bit overwhelmed most of the time. I read that multitasking increases the levels of our stress hormone, cortisol. No wonder I can’t seem to focus and feel stressed out. I’ve rewired my brain to be that way.
If we take a look at successful people, they all have certain things in common. They spend more time focusing on the task at hand, they organize their time to allow for productivity and schedule time to check emails, text, make phone calls, etc. We all have goals in our lives, we want to be successful in our own meaning of the word, but the way to get there might not be the way that this technology driven world is leading us. Or I guess I should say… the social media, fast paced, multitasking world. We need to stop and spend more time doing the task in front of us instead of dividing up our time to do twenty things at once.
I was in the middle of my daily yoga and forgot to turn my phone on silent… I got a text from a friend, well, several texts in a row and was completely thrown from my focus and afterward I had a hard time getting that focus back, it took me a bit to get back into it. I’ve only been doing this for 3 days now, but I’ve been trying to break my habit of checking my email contsantly, looking at instagram, and texting. I turn my phone off while I’m doing tasks I need to focus on. I’ve started to put my phone in another room, so I won’t be tempted to check it during dinner or quality time with my husband. I also set aside some time to just step outside myself to decompress however I need to so I can reset and gather myself.
All this multitasking is making us into idiots, robots, prisoners of an addiction, less creative and just less human in general. I didn’t realize how much harm we’re causing ourselves. If we stop and think about it… how much are we missing out on in life? We feel like we don’t have enough time, but what if we’re making less time for ourselves by multitasking? It’s like if we were switching back and forth between four different channels. We miss a lot of each show and our brains don’t even have time to process and take in the information.
So, let’s all just experiment a little and work out a schedule that works for us. Let’s stop multitasking, set aside time for things that are important and just prioritize. How different will we feel? How much more can we accomplish? How will our lives change?