Stop multitasking! Achieve more with unitasking!
You are simply lying to yourself if you think you are a master of multi-tasking. Sorry to be blunt, but it’s true – your brain agrees too.
There is an enormous overload of information in the modern world and it’s pushing us to constantly multi-task. Unfortunately for our brain we are forcing it to work in a way it is not readily able to.
Research has found that multi-tasking is actually a less effective way to be productive than focusing on one task at a time – called unitasking.
Unitask: to do one thing at a time; opposite of multitasking
(reference: Urban Dictionary)
So why is it that we can’t stop our addiction to multi-tasking, even though it’s not actually productive?
Right now, while you are reading this you are also checking emails and thinking about what to eat for lunch or dinner.
Looking much further back, our hunter-gatherer ancestors enjoyed a rate of information and technology progression that their brains could evolve along with. However, in today’s information age, life is changing so rapidly that our brains cannot possibly evolve to new ways of operating at the same speed.
Research suggests that each day we are presented with, and take in, five times the amount of information we did only 25 years ago!
Have you noticed? Think about it – the amount of paperwork, phone calls, changes to legislation or agreements, interference between people – all before lunch.
So what impact is this having on our brain?
What the brain is actually doing when there is so much information coming at once is not actually multi-tasking.
The brain is switching between tasks. The attentional part of the brain (the part that focuses on the task you are doing) moves from one task to the other – not simultaneously as you may think. This rapid shifting is a new habit we have developed to cope with modern life.
However, the problem is that this habit is burning us out. By switching tasks rapidly the brain needs to use neural resources, which is glucose, or in other words, sugar.
When we run out of sugar in our brain to cope with all the information coming at us, we then draw on our stress hormone, cortisol. When we drain the cortisol we become quite overwhelmed.
Maybe you’ve heard of (or experienced) the 3:00pm cravings at work? (See diagram)
So let’s be practical and bring back unitasking! Focus on one thing at a time for as long as possible and complete each task before moving on to the next.
Trust me, multi-tasking is dead in the water!
Left Field Co.’s Managing Director Kelly Maniatis will be presenting at the REIQ Summit on October 7. Early bird tickets are selling fast so visit REIQ Summit for your tickets today and save up to $100!