Is it even possible to multitask? My whole life I thought I was multitasking and wanting to do it better, but feeling like I failed so often. In this fast-paced world, everyone wants to get as much done in the shortest amount of time. But I have been saved! The more I research and study the brain, the more I find out it is nearly impossible to be doing two things at once.

Yes! We can do some things simultaneously like involuntary breathing and then also talking on the phone. That’s because the involuntary thing is using the subconscious mind. You can also work on habits and skills that become so rooted in our brain that those connections get stronger and our body can do them without much thought. Mastering these skills takes a long time- like walking. We don’t remember, but that skill took us a while to get down and now we can easily walk down the road and do something else at the same time such as talk on the phone.

But generally speaking, we are NOT multitasking, we are taking our attention from one thing to the next- sometimes very quickly- so it feels like we are multitasking or doing 10 things at once.

Thank goodness for books and google –I thought I was going crazy or losing it because it looked like most people were good at multitasking. But when it got down to it (trying to find out why I can’t) I found out that our brains can’t do certain things at the same time. Well at least do two or more things well at the same time.

Have you ever been talking on the phone and also try to do a math problem? Your brain has to switch from one thing to another.I have found when I am trying to do too many things at the same time I do it so slowly or terribly.

Neuroscientists are proving that our brains are overwhelmed. Everything is dividing our attention. We are ignoring distractions that are for our better good and sometimes result in problems- like a car crash. We are stressing ourselves out. Our brains are not designed to do heavy duty multi-tasking. Studies have proven that people lose time when they have to switch from one thing to another- that time adds up whenpeople switch repeatedly back and forth between tasks. SO it may seem efficient, but in the end, it takes more time with more errors. Some experts call it the science of focus.

Thank heavens for Anders Ericsson who wrote the book PEAK. He talks about being deliberate in everything. Give your attention to one thing or person at a time. I think about it often and have chosen the word deliberate as a mantra this year. I have to slow myself down all the time and remind myself to be deliberate about what I am doing. I’m still really bad at this because my whole life I have trained myself to be efficient. That’s the word of my life. I thought that meant doing 10 things at once. Now I am realizing to be efficient, I need to concentrate on one thing at a time, then cross it off my list and move to the next important item.

Being deliberate has helped in so many facets of my life. I noticed at work I make mistakes when I am hurrying or trying to do too many things at the same time. It costs me money and more time in the end. Whenever I have spilled something at work or done the wrong measurement it’s because I wasn’t concentrating on that specific task. At home, my kids feel they are important if I stop to give them the attention they need. I realize it takes a piece of the chaos of my life away when I listen to them, “Oh I don’t remember you telling me that you were going to leave the country!”

Oh wow, thank you brain experts for proving it’s not really possible to multitask. It’s normal NOT to be able to do ten things well at the same time! I will keep practicing being deliberate!


peak book by Anders Ericsson

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