According to neuroscientist Micheal Merzenich, multitasking is inefficient and causes tasks to be completed at sub optimal standards. This is because the brain cannot focus on two things at once. We can quickly flick from thought to thought, but cannot think of two things simultaneously.
Try this exercise; think about eating your favourite food, then try to think of a past holiday you had.
How was the end result? I hope you realised that, it simply can’t be done. Throw the concept of multitasking out the window, it’s a bad habit that will simply get in the way of productivity. Multitasking trains our brain to constantly look for new stimulating information, without completing anything. Start to look for focus and clarity instead, to get jobs done quicker and more efficiently.
The key to attaining mental focus is to train your brain this way, start by focusing on one task at a time and slowly complete the task ignoring outside stimulation. Try to pace yourself through the task. This is so that you don’t lose steam, within a short time frame. Especially when dealing with intense thought taxing tasks, move through it steadily and slowly. Paying close attention to the task and getting rid of the internal chatter in your head. This process is better for learning, efficiency and precision.
Norman Doidge a psychoanalyst author of book “The brain that changes itself” found that the brain in fact is dynamic and ever changing. The brain grows new connections with more things we learn. In particular learning new motor skills, like a dance sequence or learning another language. Even simple activities like talking with another person to solve emotional problems can help us find new ways to relate to situations.
Forget brain training activities on the internet for focus, clarity and memory, they do not work. If you want to grow your brain, and train it to be focused, exercise is perfect. Exercise has the added side affect of preventing life style related diseases like diabetes and heart disease. When you learn a new sport, you need to keep focused on the task. It requires your brain to learn new patterns of movement. You may even find clarity this way. You might like to start with something slower paced like yoga or Pilates.
If mind body classes aren’t your thing, get clarity by taming your mind, by focusing on your task at hand and letting go of your internal chatter. Do brain warm ups by visualising completing the task perfectly and in sequence. Often people who visualise outcomes, achieve better outcomes. You can also try taking a nap after you have completed a mind taxing task. Sleep consolidates thought processes and allows brain connections to be built. Have down time, where your brain rests and you do not dwell on the problem.
Easier said than done, I am a worry wart too! A good habit to get into is to forget about the office work and projects when your at home. Make a rule to have at least 30-60minutes per day of brain numbing activities like moon gazing, patting the dog or enjoying a meal and from now on, no more multitasking!