Mindfulness and Multitasking
Contrary to popular belief, multitasking is not the way to be more efficient. In fact, some studies suggest that doing multiple things at once decreases productivity by as much as 40%!
Practicing mindfulness can help you achieve more focus, and focus is more in tune with how the brain works optimally. The goal of working mindfully isn’t to never get distracted – distraction will always happen. Instead, the work of mindfulness is about noticing. Noticing that the mind has wandered and guiding it back to the task at hand. This helps the brain filter out irrelevant information and ultimately complete work more efficiently.
How to take a more mindful approach to your to-do list:
Ask yourself why you feel the need to multitask in the moment. Is it necessary? Or are you feeling overwhelmed or stressed by your to-do list and are reacting to that stress by trying to do it all (at once)? Deciding from that reactionary position will likely not result in productive effort.
People lose an average of 2.1 hours per day getting back on track when switching between tasks! Instead of trying to multitask, get clear on what you were hoping to achieve doing many things at once. Begin with a Take 5 practice (learn how here) before tackling your to-do list. This will help you gain clarity and prioritize which tasks need to get done first and which ones can be done later.
Multitasking has also been found to increase production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Having our brain constantly change tasks ramps up stress and leaves us feeling mentally exhausted. So, focus on one task at a time. When something requires you to focus on a second task, leave your first task in a place that you can go back to it later and complete it. Only move onto the second (and third and so on!) task when you can give your complete attention to it.
Know that the ability to focus is a skill like any other and it requires practice. So, keep trying to approach your to-do list by responding versus reacting. Don’t let setbacks discourage you and be kind to yourself when you’re struggling. Learn what works for you and know that with continued practice, you can rewire your brain’s pathways! Focus will begin to come more easily to you and you’ll eventually find managing that endless task list less overwhelming.
Want to quit mindless multitasking and start working mindfully? Take the MindWell-U Mindfulness Challenge and make mindfulness a new healthy habit. Learn how to bring the Challenge to your organization now!