Admit it, we’re all guilty of talking on the phone at the same time as continuing with our work on the computer. Or having multiple screens up and several jobs on the go that require our attention. When we juggle multiple tasks at the same time does the brain take in all the information simultaneously? NO! Unfortunately, it goes through a process of switching from one task to another. Stopping, then starting again whenever the switch takes place. We’re under the illusion that we’ve got everything under control, achieving lots and using our time efficiently. Because of the way our brain works, this could not be further from the truth!
Of course, there are tasks we can complete concurrently such as watching the tv while we do the ironing, having a conversation while we weed the garden or driving and listening to music. This is because we can do these activities unconsciously, in other words, they don’t take our conscious attention.
But, when activities require our conscious attention the brain goes through a process of switching from one task to the other with a kind of “on” – “off” button being activated between each shift of attention from one thing to the other.
What are the knock-on effects of this stop, start, switching in the brain.
- According to the American Psychological Association, multitasking creates mental blocks that can result in a 40% loss in productivity.
- Because your brain is designed to focus on one thing at a time doing multiple tasks depletes essential neuro recourses slowing you down and increasing the number of mistakes you make.
- This rapid switching between emailing, texting, listening and reading, amongst other things, burns glucose which has a limited supply making us feel tired and depleted.
- Multitasking creates a sense of overwhelming and causes the brain to release the hormone cortisol which in excess can cause mood swings, anxiety and weight gain.
- We’ve all experienced being in a conversation with someone as they reach for their phone; multitasking is detrimental to fostering good relationships.
- When your mind is scattered your energy is scattered, multitasking takes an enormous toll on our energy expenditure.
Now for the good news!
It’s not difficult to activate the antidote to this brain overwhelm, it just takes a little practice and a leap of faith. Every time you have the feeling that you’re working hard and not getting much done or begin to feel overwhelmed by the tasks you have on the go – STOP! As counter-intuitive as it may feel spend a few minutes calming your mind and bringing your attention back to being present and focussed.
This is time ‘well spent’ and will enable your whole system to re-set. You’ll be able to then calmly respond to the tasks before you and decide what needs to be tackled first.
Next time you feel overwhelmed and are trying to multitask – take this 5 Steps to Eliminate Multitask Mania
The 5 steps to eliminating multitask mania
As counter-intuitive as it feels when life gets overwhelming and it seems there are a million and one jobs to do – STOP!
Soothe your system
- Sit down with your back upright and your feet on the floor, close your eyes and take three deep breaths. Breath in slowly and fully and gently sighs out you exhale.
Settle your scattered mind
- Imagine your body to be like a tree, your legs and torso the trunk and your head the branches full of hundreds of chattering birds.
Breath out and imagine all the birds flying away and the loud chatter becoming silent as you drop your attention into your torso and legs.
Be powerfully present
- Now you have your attention on your breath and body and the chatter and overwhelm is subsiding, focus on sending waves of relaxation through your body as you exhale. Stay present, noticing when your mind gets busy and bring your attention back to your breath and body.
Bring in boundaries
- Visualise a glowing light, aura or mist around you extending out to arms-length all around your body. Imagine this to be a warm bubble of safety and stillness, in which nothing can disturb you.
Feel the focus
- From this silent, present space let the two most urgent tasks reveal themselves to you. These may not be the most important to you, but once complete these tasks will relieve your feelings of overwhelming.
Open your eyes, eliminate all distractions and focus only on the most urgent task.
Download the 5 steps here
Some courses and workshops to help with calm, focused composure!
Integrative Meditation – 6 weeks course – May/June
Learn a practical, simple and profound meditation technique that will enable you to sleep more soundly, manage challenging emotions, enjoy calm and composure and simply relax and enjoy life. Written material, audio recordings and ongoing practice classes mean you have tools and techniques to draw upon forever.
Bring your Vision to Life – afternoon workshop – May
I put this workshop together because my work as a meditation teacher and self-esteem coach has given me a huge insight into the esoteric and scientific reasons why some people’s dreams and desires come to fruition with ease and enjoyment, whilst others struggle without much success. Now I’d like you to benefit from this knowledge, so you can enjoy success and happiness because you’re fulfilling your dreams and desires.
Flow Yoga and Pilates – weekly class
Flow is an hour-long class combining Yoga, Pilates, Stretch, Relaxation and Meditation. It is holistic in nature and deeply restorative. In this class, we will focus on building a strong core and spine with a balanced and flexible body through gentle Yoga and Pilates exercises. I invite you to experience mindful movement on your mat and integrate the benefits into your life.