Probably. We all tend to do it, some more often than others.
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Are You Singletasking Yet?
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Here’s the problem: If you simultaneously activate several parts of your brain, it's smart enough to distribute incoming blood to those different areas. This reduces the volume and quality of the fuel you can devote to any mental task. Imagine a firefighter trying to put out three house fires at once by spraying a hose back and forth over them all. There’s never enough water in one place to extinguish the blaze.
Multitasking can temporarily lower your IQ.
Some of the earliest research in the field comes from the United Kingdom. One of the most-cited is a 2005 study conducted by , then a psychiatrist at , London University. Wilson found that workers who are distracted by phone calls, emails and text messages suffer a greater loss of IQ than a person smoking marijuana. His approach included , each time monitoring workers’ IQ throughout the day. Wilson’s work revealed that multitasking could temporarily decrease IQ by an average of 10 points (15 for men and 5 for women) -- equivalent to missing a whole night’s sleep.
The solution is to simplify our work periods. Remember: Blood flow to the brain can’t deliver optimum supply to all part of the brain at once. We can activate only targeted, smaller parts of the brain at any given moment.
Decide what's most important.
Protect time during each work day so you can minimize distractions and perform to your full potential. Single-tasking demands that we start with the most important task. To accomplish more, we must understand that “important” and “urgent” are not the same. Serious responsibilities might not call for your attention in the form of an email alert or ringing phone, but they require your concentrated focus just the same.
Once you’ve determined which item on your to-do list is most important, work on it exclusively until it’s completed or you come up against the deadline. Then, move on to whatever’s next.
Of course, this means managing your time and controlling when you’ll respond to emails or return voice messages. I recommend avoiding email first thing in the morning so you don’t get derailed by something that’s urgent but not important. Set aside specific times of day -- two or three blocks -- when you’ll do nothing but respond to these inquiries.
Get started today.
Try dedicating one 60- to 90-minute block of time each day to the highest-priority tasks. Discipline yourself to work in a distraction-free manner for the full time period. Resist the urge to fire back a text message. Keep in mind that habits can be hard to break, and you might not realize you’re in a rut.
Gradually build more singletasking sessions into your daily schedule. You’ll feel more focused and productive as you improve your performance -- and your mental health. Small, incremental changes can lead to improvements you didn’t think possible.
Give the science a chance
Remember. This is just a sample.
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