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Multitasking is a Myth

I think we probably all are guilty of running to multi-tasking when we are looking at a jam-packed schedule. Unfortunately, there are very few things that we can truly do at the same time (I mean “have a friend” that can’t even sing and clap on rhythm at the same time).

So, when we attempt to multi-task what we really are doing is interrupting one task to insert another.

Studies show that is takes around 20 minutes to resume a task, after an interruption. Our brains are not wired to multi-task, and it takes a lot of brain power/energy to switch gears constantly. As hard as it is, focusing on one task until completion allows you to put all your mental resources into that one task, which provides more efficient and effective outputs.

Tips for breaking the multi-tasking habit:

1) Make a master list of everything you need to do in the day, and I mean everything! From the big scary tasks to the tiny trivial tasks. If you need to get it done that day, it goes on the list. Then take some time to prioritize and organize your tasks (see tip 2 below). Schedule your day with efficiency in mind. Don’t just tick off the easiest first so you can pat yourself on the back, I challenge you to tackle those hard tasks first, when you are fresh and have more physical and mental energy!

2) Cluster similar activities together. For example, if you are a person that does a lot of emails or calls throughout the day,

consider setting up designated times to do all of them at once. By “clustering” like activities you minimize the toll and time it takes on your brain to go on to a new task.

3) Remove unnecessary distractions. An example of this would be to shut off the notifications on your devices. I know, I went there! But really, how often have you been in the middle of an assignment, and you hear that all too familiar “bing”? If you are anything like me you pause, check it to make sure it isn’t too important

. Next you either shift back to the previous task, which you have now lost focus and your brain must expend energy to re-engage, or you stop what you were doing and address whatever that notification was for before getting back to the previous task, if you get back to it at all!

4) Lastly, create deadlines for yourself. If you say you will do something in one hour, you are more likely to actually complete it in that window, then if you just say get it done by the end of the day.

Author: Laura Smart

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