When it comes to multi-tasking, adopt the phrase: “Fast is slow, slow is fast”.
It turns out that to accomplish more you have to resist the urge to speed up and rather, slow down.
A study conducted by scientists at the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) in Paris asked study participants to attempt three tasks at once. They found that the participants regularly forgot one of the three tasks they were asked to perform. The participants also made three times as many errors as they had made when attempting only two tasks.
Koechlin, the study leader, says the study demonstrates that while we can readily switch between two tasks, we “might be in great trouble when we try to juggle more than two tasks, simply because we only have two frontal lobes.” For a more in-depth look at research in this area check out Adam Gazzaley’s video as he provides insights into Brain: Memory and Multitasking.
So can we do anything to train ourselves to be better multi-taskers? The American Management Association (AMA) provides the following techniques below to help you begin to master the skill of multi-tasking.
- Practice how to multitask– Pick a few basic routine tasks that you would normally do during your day and focus on doing these at the same time. Remember gradually work up to the amount of tasks you are comfortable with and don’t overload yourself.
- Know when a task requires undivided attention– The human brain gets overloaded when trying to focus on multiple complex tasks that require undivided attention. Therefore at this stage it’s crucial to prioritise which tasks require full attention and those that can be done collectively.
- Use a tool to help you multitask – Write down items that you need to refer to quickly to avoid taxing the brain. Have these on hand.
- Allow your mind to reboot– When multi-tasking remember to take regular breaks every two to three hours, moving your focus back to a singularly focused task. This will allow the brain to re-focus and refresh.
- Take a brain break– Most important give your brain a total break and de-clutter by taking regular breaks. This means physically getting out of your work environment and going for a walk, having something to eat anything that draws your attention away from work.
Using these 5 techniques will allow to begin on your path to mastering the skill of multi-tasking by mentally slowing down and gradually building up to your optimum performance level.
About the Author
Matthew Hooper is a 32-year-old freelancer who writes articles for the agribusiness industry and general business magazines. His most recent work was for The Deer Industry New Zealand magazine (July 2015 edition). When he isn’t writing, he works as an owner/operator of his Mike Pero Mortgage Brokering business. Outside of work Matt enjoys spending time with his young family, working on his golf handicap, and catching a few waves at the local surf break.