Are you addicted to multitasking? 

By  Lysette Offley

It’s reckoned that within the last few decades, we’ve had to get used to dealing with four times more going on at a time.

That’s a huge jump!

It’s not that I’ve got ADHD, it’s just ooh look there’s a squirrel…!

Do you too, watch TV while checking your emails, replying to a text, posting on FaceBook, retweeting a message and helping the kids with their homework?

The ability and expectation that you engage with communication technology instantly puts an enormous amount of pressure on us.

But we seem to enjoy it. Many youngsters, who have grown up with the connected world, get stressed if they’re separated from their social media. So why do we feel compelled to reply immediately?

Are you addicted to multitasking - photo of squirrel on Carmel beach

Oh, and by the way, there’s no such thing as ‘multi-tasking’! While it appears that we’re able to do several things at once, what’s actually happening is that your brain switches its attention rapidly from one task to the next, and back again, while decreasing your performance as you go! And this gets worse as you get older!

Getting easily distracted, mind-wandering and not paying sufficient attention to the job in hand is the reason why we find ourselves going upstairs, only to wonder what on earth we’ve gone up there for!

The time it takes to refocus after a distraction is costing $650 billion/year in lost productivity in the States!

Have you got time to waste?

If not, what to do about it?

You can build your distraction resistance ‘muscle’ by playing action video games! There’s a good excuse to play, if ever I heard one!

And we can rest and reset by engaging with the natural world. Anything that puts you outdoors seems to slow us down, reconnect us to ourselves, and the present moment too. It turns out that it’s calming and grounding. It’s rejuvenating and energising.

Another thing you can do is meditation, mindfulness, heart-breathing, yoga… indeed, any relaxation technique will help counteract the overload and give your brain a rest.

Some people have been self-medicating with large amounts of caffeine, or amphetamines or drugs meant for people with Alzheimer’s or ADHD, but I seriously wouldn’t recommend that. There may be short-term gains, but the long-term side-effects and changes in the brain aren’t something you want to be stuck with later.

So to help stop your mind wandering or getting distracted in the first place, there are some obvious things you can do to help yourself.

So do them!!

You already know what they are!

  • Go somewhere quiet to study, where you won’t be interrupted
  • Shut the door
  • Clear your desk of ‘to do’ lists
  • Turn off your ‘phone
  • Log out of your email account
  • Quit your FaceBook and Twitter apps
  • Close your LinkedIn tab
  • And tell yourself you’re going to keep at it, come what may, until you’ve learned your first chunk

Oh! And stop reading this blog!

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Lysette Offley

Genius Maker & Founder of Genius Material and The Genius Principles. Working with professionals who need exceptional academic & professional development.

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