Multitasking – fact or fiction?

Posted on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 by Venn GroupNo comments

As Team Administrators we multitask all day. From taking phone calls, to formatting CVs, to brewing tea to the shades of the H.M British Tea Colour Chart….!


But how can we all become better at multitasking? And actually as a species are we actually any good at multitasking?


Nature emphatically says no and science has backed up nature's bellow.  Especially cognitive psychologists who describe the brain as designed to do one task at a time, not many.


In fact, is ‘multitasking’ somewhat of a myth?


The parts of our brain that measure how well we multi-process can be inaccurate.  Art Markman states that the brain doesn’t really multitask, instead it time-shares, splitting our attention which can then lead to ineffectiveness.


However, according to Marcus Raichle, MD, we luckily have ‘child like parts of our brains, which can create new connections for learning.


So, what can we do to get our one task minds, working like an octopus that has something to prove?


1) Acceptance

Give up... Well, on beating yourself up!  To paraphrase Researcher Carol Dweck, developing a “growth mind-set” instead of a “fixed mind-set”, starts the process of change.


A fixed mind-set believes that if you’re naturally bad at something you’ll never be good at it. It’s locked, like your height.


However, those who have a “growth mind-sets” believe they can cultivate their abilities. Like looking after a plant and watching it grow.


With this mentality it’s easier to overstep failure, knowing it’s a stepping block to later achievements.  Failure is your friend!



2) Be present

Since our brains are configured to “time share”, we need to improve our single focus in the present moment


This sounds easy enough but Buddhist monks and sugared up infants say otherwise.


Being present is about removing judgment, getting outside of automatic thoughts and reacting to the actual situation.


This can be gained by seemingly lofty meditation but it can also be derived from making time to be aware of your actions.


It’s called “noting”.  For example; 'I’m walking' or 'I’m sorting papers'. It can be compared to coming off auto pilot and feeling apart of the skies.  It has been proven that even 10 minutes a day of meditation can vastly improve your focus.


Another technique is the removal of unnecessary distractions. Having a messy desk zaps your attention by drawing your eye away from the tasks at hand.  A clean space will help you hold your concentration on the task at hand.  



3) Break it down

When there is just one task, your brain activates all the circuits and neurons to that individual process.  But when there's a new task on top of that, your brain starts to compromise for it. A bit like restarting your computer because it crashed from have to many programmes open.


With each restart the brain's memory, focus, and productivity dip. Ultimately you end up losing time from each restart.


Therefore, the good old to-do-list should always be at hand! That way, if your memory dips the visual of the list will help keep you focused.  They can also help make the big tasks break down into smaller ones and help prevent brain crashing.


Prioritising your list is key.  Firstly; group tasks into categories and list them in order.


Big and important tasks come first. In the self-help book; ‘Eat that frog’, this is a reoccurring theme. Successful people get the hard things done first. When practiced, you develop a ‘wining’ rush meaning you will want to do it again or more often.


To top it off, with your organised list, your brain will create less “time-sharing” shifts helping you save time and keep you focused.


Lastly, if you have time later in the day review what you have done, so it can be logged into your memory bank.


Statistics state that only “2%” of the world's population would rate themselves as “good” at multitasking.  Amongst this privileged few are the Team Administrators!


How good do you think you are at multitasking?  



Team Administrators, Venn Group

Previous PostNext Post

No comments on "Multitasking – fact or fiction?"