One of the ways we let ourselves get overwhelmed with stress and burnout is through something we commonly boast about… multitasking. That’s right: Multitasking is making us stupid. Let’s talk about how to stop multitasking with a tactic you can start implementing today.
Multitasking is making us STUPID | A Guide on How to Stop Multitasking!
Have you ever bragged that you are an amazing multitasker? Do you pride yourself on being able to DO it all and HAVE it all? Let’s talk about how multitasking is getting in our way of living a stress-free (or at least less stressful) life.
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What is Multitasking?
Multitasking is doing two things at the same time.
Sounds simple, right? How can we complicate and say that multitasking is weighing us down and causing more stress than calm in our lives?
Picture this: You are cleaning up dinner and washing your dishes. You decide to turn on your audiobook while you clean up. You’ve just gotten to a thrilling surprise in the audiobook and are elated! Your partner walks over to help put away and dry some of the dishes. He looks at you, says something and then asks again. You snap out of your audiobook trance and realize that you were so focused on listening to your audiobook that you didn’t scrub that pan very well and part of the pasta is still caked to the bottom!
Can you relate? This is an example of multi-tasking. You were washing the dishes at the same time as listening to an audiobook.
The BIG difference? You were not FOCUSING on both activities at the same time because that is not humanly possible!
Don’t believe me?
Picture this: You’re enjoying listening to a podcast while commuting in your car (lots of this in Los Angeles traffic!) While avoiding another car merging into your lane on the freeway, you realize that you completely missed the point Jessica Stansberry was making! Now you need to click back to rewind 15-30 seconds and replay her point!
Again, you were multi-tasking here. Listening to the podcast at the same time as driving. BUT you were not MULTI-FOCUSING. This is not humanly possible.
Why Multitasking Hurts us more than it Helps us
When we try so hard to switch between tasks, we are using up valuable brain processing. When we pride ourselves on multitasking, we are actually slowing ourselves down more than helping ourselves. Yes, it is possible to DO two things at the same time but it is not possible to FOCUS on two things at the same time.
This is especially true if we are using the same parts of our brain on two tasks. For example, if we are trying to write an email while talking on the phone, we are multi-tasking our auditory systems and setting up ourselves for failure in one of the areas.
How to Stop Multitasking and Transition to Solo-Focusing
Here’s a simple solution to multitasking. I call it solo-focusing.
- Become self-aware when you are multitasking
- Acknowledge you are multitasking
- Transition into solo-focusing on one task at a time
Solo-focusing means concentrating on one task at a time. From the examples we mentioned before, solo-focusing means we pause our audiobook or podcast for a minute to focus on washing dishes or driving. We stop the quick task switching that is overloading our brains and potentially causing even more mental clutter to transition from multitasking into solo-focusing.
Don’t believe that this works? Let’s take Nurse Katie as an example.
Nurse Katie gets very busy and confused while she takes care of multiple patients at once and talks to physicians, pharmacists and dietitians. When she implemented this simple 3-step solo-focusing process, she had a complete change in her feelings towards work! Her brain felt less cluttered with information and she felt less stressed throughout the day. She dedicated specific focused time to each task at hand and felt present with her patients. Ending multitasking can have a big impact on
Next steps to Ensure you Stop the Multitasking Mindset
Apply what you’ve learned here. Grab an accountability partner to help you recognize when you are multitasking. This may be someone from your home or work setting. Many times, we may be doing this without realizing. Slowly applying this 3-step process will transform your life. As with anything, consistency is key. Be the master of your life and your life will feel less stressful.