You can do anything but not everything. – David Allen.
For many of us, our attention spans are shorter than they used to be thanks to technology, the increased pace of modern life and multitasking.
At work or home, we are expected to multi task and it’s a habit which is glorified. Rather than focus on one task, completing it and moving on to the next, we spread ourselves thin, working away at multiple tasks. It’s like the hamster on a wheel, no matter how fast the hamster runs, he/she will always stay on the wheel.
Multitasking may seem like it’s beneficial because you justify it to yourself by saying, I’m getting a lot of many things done yet in reality, it takes time to refocus on a task when you are interrupted, distracted or jumping between tasks. Research has shown that it can take 15 minutes or longer to refocus on a task once you’ve been interrupted – no wonder some days we feel like the day has ruled us! When we block out distractions, we can concentrate. When we focus on one task, it can be completed and another started.
Just like anything, it can be challenging to break a habit, especially when it’s on going and an expectation imposed on you by yourself and others. Where possible, try to minimize distractions, allocate a time for you to give your complete attention to the task and then take a short break before resuming. You may want to start with 30 minutes or an hour then have a 5 minute break and then repeat the process. It may seem like you will get less done but once you try this method, you will begin to see results. By focusing on one task, you will get through your to do list faster and with ease.
Our brains are like a computers central processing unit/CPU, they can only process so much at once. When we begin to close tabs, our brains work faster and more efficiently.
On the plus side, you also get the satisfaction of crossing that task off your list- permanently. Be realistic and allocate time to do the task, focus and then repeat.