LoveYourBrain Tip: Practice Single-Tasking

PRACTICE SINGLE-TASKING!

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BRAIN HEALTH | 12.12.2016 | BY ABBIE ELDRIDGE, MS, CCC-SLP.

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Studies show that multitasking reduces productivity by 40% and increases errors by up to 50%. How can that be? Aren’t we all being extra efficient by doing more than one thing at a time? It turns out that attempting to multitask not only lowers productivity, but also places strain on the brain that leads to increased stress, anxiety and disorganization. Well, that doesn’t sound like a good way to LoveYourBrain! So, give yourself permission to pause, block out distractions and focus on this week’s tip (and nothing else!) for the next moment…

It’s estimated that only 2% of the population can truly multitask. For the other 98% of us, attempting to multitask overwhelms the brain and activates an area in the left hemisphere called the posterior lateral prefrontal cortex (pLPFC). This part of the brain handles information sequentially rather simultaneously, which means that the brain is actually task-switching rather than managing multiple activities at once. The amazing brain already knows that it should only be focusing on one task at a time!

So, what’s the alternative? Become comfortable with being a great single-tasker! To begin, choose one task and commit to focusing on just this one activity for a short period of time. It may be helpful to filter out distractions (i.e., turn off email alerts or electronic devices), set a timer, and work in short bursts. Then, take a short break before starting on another task. In addition, meditation and mindfulness practice can help develop the brain’s ability to focus and achieve comfort and calm amidst the demands of a busy schedule.

The next time you find yourself trying to manage multiple tasks at once, remember that you may be more efficient and more relaxed if you do just one thing at a time!