Busy lives are now the norm. We are all juggling conflicting priorities both in work and out of it. Research into how the brain works has found that, although we receive a positive hormonal response to multitasking, it is creating long-term damage, not only to our productivity and to-do-lists, but also to our brains.
Finding ways of breaking the multitasking habit can be as simple as:
- turning off email
-turning your phone to silent
-blocking out chunks of time in your diary to complete single tasks
- turning off the TV while reading your tablet
What are you going to do to break your multitasking habit today?
MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller notes our brains are “not wired to multitask well… when people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost.” This constant task-switching encourages bad brain habits. When we complete a tiny task (sending an email, answering a text message, posting a tweet), we are hit with a dollop of dopamine, our reward hormone. Our brains love that dopamine, and so we’re encouraged to keep switching between small minitasks that give us instant gratification. This creates a dangerous feedback loop that makes us feel like we’re accomplishing a ton, when we’re really not doing much at all (or at least nothing requiring much critical thinking). In fact, some even refer to email/Twitter/Facebook-checking as a neural addiction.