Sunday, 5 July 2015

The Truth About Multi-tasking

I had a little revelation the other day. Somewhere between the half-written email that I found two hours after starting it and the empty cup that I had prepared an hour ago - and completely forgotten that I'd boiled the kettle - I realised that I really need to learn to focus. When you're trying to plan a wedding, work almost full-time and set up a business from home, it can be hard to really get things done.
How often do you set out with a huge to-do list, only to find that you haven't completed any items on it by the end of the day? How often do you find that "something came up" and you completely forgot about the thing you were supposed to be doing? Do you ever walk into a room and forget why you were there in the first place? It's possible that there might be too much on your mind, and that by trying to get a lot of things done at once, you're not actually being more effective - but less.

I picked up a very interesting book the other day, called Your Brain at Work. In this lovely little book, which applies findings from neuroscience to our everyday lives (especially at the office) in a way that's easy to understand, David Rock discusses how multi-tasking might, in fact, slow us down rather than speed us up. Trying to write that email, plan your next meeting and eat your lunch at once might not make you a more efficient worker - it has the exact opposite effect. To some of you, that might not be news - but many of us have been told that multi-tasking is a skill. We think of our ability to do several things at once with pride, our colleagues and bosses seem to praise how busy we seem to be - but what if we're actually just frazzling our brains unnecessarily?