Multitasking - The Bane of Efficiency

Multitasking really means switching from what is filling our focus a the present time to another focus. Ultimately becoming less efficient. 

As Leaders we are all too familiar with the interruptions from our task by colleagues stopping by our office or stopping us in the hall or calling us at their time of need we are disrupted from the focus at hand. This routine disruption takes minutes or more to refocus and gain the momentum we once had on the task. This means loss of productivity. 

What we are not as familiar with and dismiss is the fallacy of "Multi-Tasking". This provides a very similar disruption in our focus all ultimately a loss of focus and productivity. The only difference is we can shut our door, turn off our ringers, come in early stay late and even hide-out so no one can physically distract us from the much needed focus to complete our tasks. We can schedule our distractions by others in creative ways. but we cannot as easliy schedule our mind to turn off if we are use to multitasking - thinking we can do it all. When we constantly switch between one task and the other we are essentially limiting our creative and problem solving capability for each task and ultimately not providing the best result in all cases. 

However with practice we can use Mindfulness to maintain focus and choose what to focus on. In short, mindfulness practice strengthens focus, particularly the impulse control area of the brain, working memory capacity and the ability  to sustain attention. Some of these benefits can be seen in as little as 20 minutes over just 4 days. The longer you practice the greater the sustained effect. 

When professionals were trained on mindfulness and then tested on the simulation of their daily frenzy, the mindfulness training improved their concentration noticeably, What's more, they stayed on task longer and performed more efficiently. 

Mindfulness increases self awareness. 

Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment and not unconsciously reacting but consciously choosing.

Mindfulness involves paying attention “on purpose”. Mindfulness involves a conscious direction of our awareness. We sometimes (me included) talk about “mindfulness” and “awareness” as if they were interchangeable terms, but that’s not a good habit to get into. I may be aware I’m irritable, but that wouldn’t mean I was being mindful of my irritability. In order to be mindful I have to be purposefully aware of myself, not just vaguely and habitually aware.