So, you like getting things done. Forget just sitting in a meeting, listening or talking. Nope. You can be in a meeting, manage your texts and send that all-important email at the same time. You’re a task-juggling master!
Except you’re not. Sure, the tasks themselves may be completed, but how well? According to neuroscience, not very.
Multitasking is a myth. Instead, our brain toggles between tasks, back and forth, back and forth, when what it really wants to do is focus. Not only is multitasking exhausting for our brain, despite what we’ve been led to believe, it’s not efficient, effective or productive.
Of course, we multitask very well in other aspects of our life: eating and listening, talking and walking. But these don’t require critical thinking, like most of our work-related tasks do.
The key is to find ways to focus – really focus – on each task we take on so that our brain can work to its full potential, provide clear thinking, rational thought and clever innovation. It’s the difference between “meh” and “nailed it!” You might get the task done, but too often it takes more effort to reflect, make good decisions, come up with answers and think under pressure than it should. Simply put: our brains are overtasked.
Focusing on one task at a time and successfully completing it is like candy for the brain. Research shows that being able to cross actions off as you achieve them – even small tasks like sending a text – is highly rewarding to our brains. It literally drip-feeds your brain with the neurotransmitter dopamine, which keeps you curious and motivated.
This is particularly important in a work environment. Understanding what our brains need to be more focused and productive is critical to long-term success and achieving optimal performance.
Neuroscience has shown that our brains possess a performance sweet spot and we reach it by focusing on what matters in that moment. So the next time you’re busy texting in a meeting instead of focusing on what’s being said, don’t. You may be surprised what you learn.
Noesis delivers neuroleadership consulting and training to organizations handling everyday change and major transformation initiatives. We help our clients scientifically improve leadership.