The Myth of Multitasking and Learning Focus

A friend of mine was telling me about her husband and his recent evening activities.  He was doing the following events all seemingly at the same time: watching TV, doing a work assignment on his IPad, routinely checking his phone, and trying to carry on a conversation with her.  If that sounds excessive, I am sure there are moments when you have engaged in similar illogical behaviors.

Multitasking is a myth

Numerous studies have addressed multitasking and productivity and the results have been what you might expect.  One study carried out at Stanford University used subjects who claimed to be “Exceptional” multitaskers.  What did the results of this scientific study find?  That even those who rate themselves as great multitaskers consistently performed worse than those who focused on one single task at a time.  

Multitasking lowers you IQ and EQ

A study conducted at the University of London found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they’d expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night.  Texting while in a work meeting, and reading an email during a conversation with our spouse and friends suggests low levels of self-awareness and social awareness - two critical aspects of Emotional Intelligence (EQ).  It is also rude.  It devalues their time.  The most valuable of all assets.

The years say what the days cannot

When you continually reinforce the multitasking habits, you continue to strengthen the neural connections in your brain making it harder to change.  In other words, you will form a multitasking habit which will spill over into other areas of your life.  I believe that it will lead to greater scatterbrain thinking.  If you want to live in the present moment, it requires that you have more awareness and focus.  It also requires decreasing the attention given to distractions.  Increased focus can be learned and made into a habit.  One method that has helped me with improving focus is breath meditation.  I find it to be the simplest and yet at the same time the most challenging meditation practice.  If you can maintain complete focus on just your breath while sitting still for more than three seconds without any mental wandering you are a master and have a far greater level of attention than I.   However, I keep practicing.  I keep sharpening the tools.

Until Next Week,

Rich Decker – Mindful Accord