A fly in the ointment…. why multi-tasking is bad for you

I read a great article today on multi-tasking – something I once prided myself on being an expert at!

In the article, Earl Miller, a neuroscientist at MIT and one of the world experts on divided attention states,

Our brains are “not wired to multitask well… When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost in doing so.” … Even though we think we’re getting a lot done, ironically, multitasking makes us demonstrably less efficient.Multitasking has been found to increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol as well as the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline, which can overstimulate your brain and cause mental fog or scrambled thinking… To make matters worse, the prefrontal cortex has a novelty bias, meaning that its attention can be easily hijacked by something new – the proverbial shiny objects we use to entice infants, puppies, and kittens. The irony here for those of us who are trying to focus amid competing activities is clear: the very brain region we need to rely on for staying on task is easily distracted.”

Well, I can tell you I am like a crow – I like shiny things.  This is something I am working hard on changing. At work I now block time in my calendar for specific tasks, breaks, and even when I’m going to end my day. Committing to this was hard at first but is getting easier.  I am doing this at home too – when I commit to spending time with my children I do my best to not get distracted by something else. It takes practice but is getting easier.

A link to the full article titled Why the modern world is bad for your brain by Daniel Levitin is here!




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