Busting the Myth of Multitasking

If you’re an entrepreneur that thinks of yourself as the consummate multitasker, this is one article you must read. Let me begin by stating the main idea: Multitasking is a myth! It’s important to debunk this myth and set the record straight so you know what’s really involved in boosting your productivity.

The human brain can really only focus on one thing at a time. In this sense, there’s really no such thing as multitasking. Your brain just can’t do it. Some people do get really good at quickly switching from one task to another, but it’s not what we all think of when we say we’re multitasking. And even that is hard to do. 

The one exception is when you’re talking about things that are totally second nature. Think walking and chewing gum at the same time. That is true multitasking, but it’s not going to do much to boost your productivity, right? The plain fact of the matter is that if you try to do two complex, non-habitual tasks at the same time, they’re both likely to turn out badly.

Many of you may be familiar with the name Daniel Goleman. If you are, it’s probably because he’s the one who popularized the concept of emotional intelligence. What you might not know is that he’s been looking into concepts related to multitasking and published a book about it a few years back called Focus

He would say give up on the idea of multitasking. What you need to do is totally focus on just one thing at a time. But even that is difficult given all the distractions and pace of life in the digital era in which we live. But there are things you can do to increase your ability to focus and concentrate.

When you need to focus on a particular task or issue, the first thing you need to do is to consciously eliminate as many potential distractions as possible. No, you won’t be able to preemptively prevent all distractions, so then you have to practice ignoring the ones that still come up. 

Perhaps the single-most effective thing you can do to increase your focus is anything that qualifies as mindfulness. Focus is what you need to produce superior results in your business. But it’s very easy to lose your focus. When your mind starts to wander, what can you do? There’s simple four-step process that can bring you back to the task at hand:

  1. Pay attention to your breath.
  2. Admit your mind has wandered off and why.
  3. Consciously set aside that train of thought.
  4. Now re-focus your attention back to your breath again and hold it there for a bit.

You’ll find you’re then ready to get back to work with greater clarity and focus. This little four-step process, however, is much harder than you might think. It takes practice to be able to recognize when you mind goes off-track, and even more practice to train your mind to come back and focus. You may find yourself needing to the do this four-step process many times a day until you get really good at it – but the health of your business will benefit from the effort.

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