Is Multitasking Good For You?

Do you pride yourself on your multitasking ability? I did until…

People often brag about their multitasking ability

Yep, that was me. Man, I was so darn proud that I could do so many things in one sit down. Write on my current book, work on a blog post, design covers, it was like I’d grown octopus tentacles and could do multiple tasks, especially with all those computer tabs open!

But now science is showing us that it’s really not multitasking, but brain shifting!

What exactly does that mean?

No it’s not your brain moving from side to side, it’s not left brain / right brain use, it’s … well it’s not good for you now or in the long term.

You’re switching your focus back and forth, unable to easily tune out distractions which has been shown to create mental blocks. You’re doing things concurrently.

We all do it daily,

  • driving while listening to a podcast, or a book,
  • texting while doing any other task, like writing a blog post
  • making an appointment because you remember it while you’re writing
  • leaving one task unfinished to work on another

I know you know what I’m talking about.

What made me realize I was no longer doing this well.

I’d started the year with the word, SIMPLIFY, because I knew this was going to be a tough one and I was burning out already. Then indeed tragedy struck. My mom passed away and I couldn’t concentrate on anything for less than a few minutes. Where was my vaulted multitasking cape?

I was constantly distracted, my emotions were on edge and nothing could bring me any peace. Instead of feeling like I was in control of everything in front of me, I wasn’t in control of anything.

Even my automaticity was effected. Things like brushing your teeth, driving the car, crossing a street every day to get to work. You basically tune out and just do it, until an interruption comes such as stress…you name it. That function became less stable for me.

And I wondered if I was simply getting old (not!) or I was going through some sort of illness like dementia. Some days I couldn’t remember what I’d had for dinner the night before.

That’s when I mentioned it my husband and oddly he’d just read an article on the negatives of multitasking.

This is what happens when you multitask

You become distracted easily because you’re always looking for the next task that is waiting to be finished or started or whatever.

Thus our productivity is reduced because of the mental demand made on our brain.

Our focus is compromised

So my concept of simplifying my life was riding myself of tasks I didn’t want to do, passing on “things” I knew I’d never wear, or use again. Decluttering my space…

And my brain still wasn’t working better.

I had more to do, estate stuff, writing, creating a new website, working on my YouTube channel. And I was still exhausted and stressed. My space was cleaner, clearer, but little did I know that multitasking was doing the exact opposite in my brain.

Our Brains are evolved to do a single task

It’s all far more complicated than what I’m going to present here, and if you search the internet for Multitasking, you’ll find a plethora of articles. I used this and this to help me understand more about this subject.

Basically our brains are not computers, the architecture of the brain isn’t meant to switch focus. To put it simply it’s because we have a frontoparietal controls, dorsal controls and ventral controls in our brain, when we “multitask” we cause a disruption between them.

Very simply, on task work allows these controls to work together without disruption. Our brain works smoothly and our performance is better.

When we multitask the brain takes longer and longer to switch “these controls” causing more neural processing…think burnout.

Worse, there is evidence that there is a possible decrease in neural activity in the long run.

Am I trying to scare you?

Nope, just bring to light a subject that is now being studied with more intensity and how multitasking may harm you instead of bring you more productivity.

What this means to me is going back to my system of writing tasks on my planner and doing my best to stick to them ONE AT A TIME.

Some of the products I use to make focus work for me.

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