GUEST POST BY WENDY JENKINS, READY RESILIENCE
With so much going on in the world and our country right now and working conditions seemingly in a constant state of flux, it’s no wonder anxiety is creeping in for many. This series is designed to offer ‘bite size’ resilience tips from Ready Resilience.
Ready Resilience helps organisations thrive during times of change and challenge, using practical neuroscience-based resilience tools that have been proven to offer in-the-moment solutions and long-lasting results.
October resilience tip
Multitasking is a myth. Our brain cannot perform two ‘thinking’ tasks at once. Instead, your brain is rapidly switching between tasks in tenths of a second. This juggling can take its toll, reducing our mental resilience, wellbeing and productivity.
Your brain processes these types of high-level cognitive tasks in two stages. Goal shifting is the decision to focus on a new task instead of the current one. Rule activation is turning off the ‘rules’ (how the brain completes a given task) for one task and turning on the ‘rules’ for another.
This approach of I will ___ while I ____ can feel effective, however studies have shown that navigating these two stages can take up as much as 40% of your productive time, especially for more complex tasks. It has been shown to increase the stress hormone cortisol, and result in less brain density in the region responsible for empathy, cognitive and emotional control. It can even see a temporary drop in your IQ by as much as 15 points, similar to having missed a night’s sleep.
Interestingly, roughly half of these switching activities are self-interruptions. One minute you’re working on a report and the next minute checking airline deals for when travel restrictions ease.
You would be better to task-repeat, so there is less preparation needed, or just simply focus on one task at a time.