There’s a long standing question about the validity of multitasking. Is it real or is it a myth?
In “Think You’re Multitasking? Think Again,” NPR correspondent Jon Hamilton highlights the work of Neuroscientist Earl Miller who says that you are NOT. You’re simply switching focus between tasks very quickly. While Dr. Julio Martinez-Trujillo from McGill University says that you CAN multitask, but to what end, he doesn’t yet know.
Of course, the real debate of merit, in my life, is the one that happens between my mother and I. She swears by multitasking and I think it’s a villain. Regardless of who is right or wrong, there are moments when it pays to completely disconnect. If we can multi-task, then we can’t multi-task all the time. And there is a real benefit to moments of complete focus. I call it “building a fire.”
When your ideas have a chance to grow in a protected setting and build on top of each other, you carry the potential for seeing things in a way that they have never been seen before. You start with a spark, and then you nurse it to a full flame until it’s strong enough to warm the house.
Taking 30 minutes to brainstorm, but answering 10 unrelated phone calls throughout the session can weaken your strategy development. I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work. When you’re interrupted you have to refocus yourself and that costs you time. On the other hand, I have watched the best ideas come to life at the end of a short but focused session.
Sometimes it pays to completely disconnect, to focus on the one and let your mind reset. Disconnecting can protect your sanity.
Maybe you need 30 minutes of working out, 30 minutes of eating or a private moment in the bathroom without a phone call, text message or email. The world will be there when you get back — ready for you to multitask or switch focus quickly (depending on who you believe).
If you disconnect and refresh, then you just may find yourself a little smarter, faster and more effective when you plug back in.
Unplugged Photo via Shutterstock