Many people claim to be good multitaskers. They believe they can effectively watch television, play on their phone, and do their homework… at the same time. There’s so much wrong with this statement it literally makes me feel uncomfortable just typing it.
Despite common belief the human brain cannot multitask. What you perceive to be multitasking is merely your brain rapidly shifting its attention from one task to another.
So Multitasking Isn’t Productive?
NO. In fact, It couldn’t be farther from being productive. For one you lose a lot of time shifting your attention between each task. Your brain only has so much “Mental RAM,” or working memory.
When you shift your attention between tasks you lose a lot of time because your brain has to repeatedly load up different states of mind and thoughts into your working memory for different tasks.
Even more significant than that, however, is the fact that each time you switch between different tasks you lose flow.
What Is Flow?
Flow is a state of mind in which you become one with your task. You become completely present to the moment and time and other thoughts cease to exist.
Almost everyone has experienced flow at some point. Perhaps you were playing basketball and you got into flow, often called “The Zone” in sports, you became extremely focused, and all your shots started falling.
If you’re a rapper you may have experienced flow while you were freestyling, and without even realizing it you are able to freestyle an entire song.
As a writer I often experience flow while writing blog posts. In fact, I’ve written almost all of my best articles while experiencing flow. Flow is particularly important as a writer because it allows you to transfer the exact state of consciousness you’re currently in to the paper for your audience to read.
Regardless of the task you’re trying to accomplish a flow state of mind will allow you to achieve it more quickly, and at a higher quality than you ever could have scatter brained.
Getting Into Flow
Because I’m such a nice guy I’ll give you a couple tips at getting into flow.
(1.) Commit to a single task. Multitasking has to become a thing of the past.
(2.) Don’t resist not being in flow. Let’s say you’re writing a blog post. You’re not in flow. You’re checking the clock every thirty seconds, and you’re having massive difficulty focusing. What’s the common approach for writer’s here? To proclaim that they’re in writer’s block, and that they need to come back another day.
After having juggled nearly everyday for the last 2 years and writing approximately 150 blog posts this year I can honestly tell you that occasionally flow is unattainable. Some days just aren’t meant for certain activities. 9 times out of 10, however, that’s just an excuse. Realize this, and don’t resist not being in flow on a particular day. Then continue on to the next step.
(3.) Take whatever actions you know you should be taking.
If you’re a writer this means writing anything, even if it’s complete gibberish. If you’re a rapper this means kicking some lame rhymes at the beginning. If you’re trying to get into a social mode this means going and talking to different groups of people.
Regardless of what you’re trying to attain flow in, however, you have to take action not for the end result, but instead simply to enjoy the process.
If you’re not enjoying the process you’re not being present to the moment, and flow cannot exist outside the now. If you haven’t jumped on the meditation bandwagon by now it would be a good time to do so.
Protecting Your Flow
Being in a state that’s deeply present to the moment has the potential to produce amazing results (as well as being calming and fulfilling), and thus it’s important you do all you can to protect it.
Remember to stay focused on the process rather than the end result. If you allow the voice in your head to begin hypothesizing over the future it’s very likely you’ll lose your flow.
Another important thing to remember is to minimize the possibility of other people interrupting you. Set boundaries for when people can contact you. If applicable to your task create a “Do Not Disturb” sign, lock your door, shut off your phone, and take your email offline to eliminate the temptation of checking up on it.
Multitasking is something that may seem enticing, but will only be to your detriment if you decide to partake in it. If you want to produce the highest quality work you’re capable of you need to maintain your focus on a single task. When you’re able to enter a flow state it’s almost as if you’re able to access a higher conscious and it is during these moments you will experience pure joy, and produce results you didn’t imagine yourself being capable of.
I apologize for being behind on the blog posts and videos this week. It’s been a crazy one, but I’ve got a lot of great content coming out in the next couple weeks to make up for it!
(Picture is of me and a juggler I met at Madfest this weekend learning to pass clubs.)
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