I used to call myself, “the queen of multi-tasking.” For years I filled my day so full I often answered the phone while typing an email or wrote a report while eating my lunch. Sometimes I didn’t recall eating because my mind was so preoccupied. Sound familiar? I worked extremely hard at keeping all the balls in the air and did a decent job…so I thought. However, at the end of the day my brain was completely fried. I used to joke and say after 5:00PM I’m lucky if I know my name.
I battled burnout and couldn’t understand why… UNTIL I learned multi-tasking is counter-productive and can actually cause brain malfunction. According to Brainfacts.org and many scientific studies, multi-tasking is commonly shown to impair cognitive performance. Each time we switch between tasks it results in a reduction in *performance* compared to doing one task at a time.
You may be surprised to know whenever we focus on ONE task, the prefrontal cortex, which spans the left AND right sides of the brain joins in the action. This is also how to stimulate the brain with motivation. One task at a time will literally keep your motivation up resulting in higher productivity.
When we try to do multiple tasks, the brain will only pull from one side (left OR right) and whichever task is associated with a higher degree of reward, the other side of the brain becomes more active which results in lower motivation. Therein lies the burnout factor.
So, in other words, the brain divides itself when we’re multi-tasking so we’re literally working with half of our brain. Add in a third task and the likelihood of forgetting and making mistakes increases significantly. Scientists believe it’s because we only have two frontal lobes which doesn’t leave any place in the brain to hold on to the details of the third task.
So, as you progress through your day… FOCUS on ONE task at a time. Give it your UNDIVIDED ATTENTION and before you know it you will be zipping through your to-do list with renewed energy and a higher quality of work. I know this work-hack has made my life so much lighter and my work enjoyable once again.
I have surrendered the crown of Queen of Multi-tasking for the tiara of the Princess of Productivity.
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