Are you a pro at functioning out while listening come the recent podcast? possibly you can also hold a conversation while planning out the remainder of her day?

Like myself — you are most likely a multitasker.

You are watching: Which is better: mindfulness or multitasking?

There is part pride connected when overcoming several tasks at once, like driving while eating Chipotle and also calling into a meeting — all there is no spilling the overpriced guac on your chinos.

In fact, countless employers uncover this trait highly desirable — even though ns would never ever put mine burrito-eating skills on my resume.

But in reality, multitasking is often detrimental, reducing productivity by nearly 40%. Your brain is not focused on the current moment, and you are an ext likely to do mistakes. 

It’s conveniently shifting your fist from one job to another. Thus, that is easier for your brain to come to be distracted and exhausted. 

You room basically half-assing multiple tasks rather of whole-assing just one.

Still, some human being swear up and also down the they space born to be multitaskers. While I would certainly love to provide these so-called professionals the advantage of the doubt, the evidence versus multitasking — and in donate of mindfulness — is overwhelming.


The science & Downsides to Multitasking

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Yes, you might think you an expert multitasker, but friend are just an professional in your reality. 

Not to break out a clearly morbid example, but the virtually 3,000 world killed through distracted driving each year probably believed they were an excellent multitaskers together well.

Suppose that dispute alone doesn"t row you up a bit. In the case, i think you need to look at some scientific study results around multitasking pitfalls.

Switching costs & mental Refractory Period


Psychologists have found that there is a mental cost between switching tasks.

In the 90s, Ph.D. Researchers crafted a examine where attendees performed task-switching experiments. They contrasted how lengthy it took subjects to finish a task based upon their vault tasks" complexity and variety. 

They found that people who switched to a totally different task - however predictable - were slow to adjust to the new task than topics who repeated the very same task again.

It’s prefer a refractory period after lovemaking — but because that your large brain, no your little brain.

Task intricacy Index


In a 2001 experiment, researchers performed a series of math-based task-switching experiment on college students and also young adults. 

They found that each new task was met with lost time (as we previously mentioned, the psychological refractory period), live independence of knowledge level.

Also, they discovered that the lot of time lost between tasks associated with the intricacy of the task itself. 

Therefore, the higher the task complexity index, the much longer the necessary mental refractory period. It’s like if you room in the gym lifting heavyweights: the weight your mind benches, the longer rest you require in between sets.

Further research has actually quantified this refractory period to be the mind recouping, figuring out where it remained in the ahead task, and also reconfiguring its control settings in ~ the brand-new task.

Gray matter & Mental Health


Multitasking isn’t just around inefficiency and also lost productivity; it can even go as much as influence your mental health

Research has linked human being how media multitask (using multiple screens or devices) with lower gray matter density in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in ~ the brain. The ACC is responsible for both cognitive and emotional control.

Therefore, we have the right to assume the the an ext you multitask, the less you fully process your suffer within reality.

Other studies have shown that gray matter brain density is adversely associated with mental disorders like anxiety and depression. If it may be a large to connect multitasking with the ubiquity of mental illness, there sure appears to it is in a correlation.


You’re simply A Meat Computer

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Think the your brain like a computer. 

There are constantly a few programs running her bodily features in the background so the you nothing drop dead. These psychological processes generally don’t pat a duty in your day-to-day activities or decisions unless you’re otherwise unhealthy. Still, they take it up a kind chunk of your mental computer power.

The staying capacity of her meat computer should be focused top top what you room doing. It’s taking input via her senses and also outputting your emotions, thoughts, and also actions. 

Like with any computer, the more programs you have running, the slower and less efficient you become.

Obviously, this whole analogy is super-simplified, and also there is much much more to it.

Still, the emotion holds: the an essential to maximize your meat computer’s efficiency — without enduring on quality —is to focus on a singular task in the present.

This is where mindfulness comes right into play.


Mindfulness Vs. Multitasking

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Mindfulness is the state that being fully aware of her surroundings. 

It’s around knowing what you’re doing as soon as you’re doing it — and why you space doing that in the first place. 

That’s no to speak you can’t execute multiple points while gift mindful; you should simply expend your energy in the current rather than in the future or past. 

Obviously, some world find this ide too vague and also unhelpful, so let’s look at a much better example.

Let’s to speak you space brushing her teeth. For countless of us, this straightforward task is just part of our day-to-day routine and often overlooked. You choose up the toothbrush, squeeze out out part toothpaste, easily spritz the loaded brush with some water, and also feverishly brush your chompers. 

Yet if you space brushing your this while gift mindful, girlfriend are entirely focused ~ above dislodging food scraps and polishing her pearly whites. 

You know your why for brushing her teeth, and adjust your actions come fit the purpose. Basically, you no brushing her teeth just for the heck of it; you room doing the to improve dental hygiene and also maintain an acceptable social appearance.

Still, most of the time, your mind is no thinking about reaching ago to her molars or scraping her tongue (if you aren’t doing this, you should start).

Instead, her head is sheathe up about what you will wear for the day, why your ceo doesn’t it seems to be ~ to prefer you, and how Rose had plenty of room on the door because that Jack at the end of Titanic.

In other words, you are multitasking — albeit poorly — between prepare for your day, hypothetical movie plot holes, and keeping her mouth clean.

Your brain ruminates, spiraling right into the abyss, moving from one believed to another — then an additional after that. 

You aren’t life in the current moment.

That leads united state to the truth about multitasking. If your mind is thinking about something while your body is doing something else, you aren’t completely productive.

Even if that a solitary task, then you space multitasking. Girlfriend aren’t putting 100% of your meat computer’s processing power right into reality, thus not performing to the best of her ability.

Still, multitasking is not as negative as it is made the end to be. In fact, that often essential to multitask to endure in today’s society.


1. Vocalize Your Task

One cheat in the mindfulness world is not only to know your intentions yet to rewire your mind to focus on a solitary task in ~ a time. 

By vocalizing what you space doing, you space basically commanding your mind to do that thing. This an approach works finest during those minuscule refractory periods when you are switching tasks. Let’s take a look in ~ a rapid example.

Let’s speak you’re answering an email; you should have the ability to say, “I’m answering an email literally.” Then, you see a notice pop-up for Facebook. You would then say, “I’m checking my on facebook notifications.” 

At first, you must be speak these points out loud, yet once you obtain a little bit of practice, you’ll be able to vocalize your job in her head to command your mind in the right direction.


2. Know Your Schedule

Productivity and procrastination are directly connected to emotional processing ability. In turn, this mental ability is pertained to alertness and wakefulness.

Therefore, to exert your most whole effort and focus on one of two people mindfulness or multitasking, you should recognize which time of job you’re at your best. Probably you’re very early bird, or perhaps you favor to burn the midnight oil. 

It’s additionally important to note that the optimal time of job is no the exact same for each certain task. Friend don’t need to lump every one of your essential errands right into a three-hour window.

Personally, i really like to write in the mornings since it provides me feel most creative. Still, my optimal gym time is in the afternoon. 

It’s all around understanding her motivations and energy level to improve your efficiency.


3. Do (Or Don’t) eliminate Distractions

The traditional assumption is that if you get rid of distractions, girlfriend are an ext likely to it is in productive. While this is frequently the case, it no tell the entirety story.

Albeit limited, research has displayed that distractions might actually control urgers and also increase self-control. Lock act as a fast reward device for the brain, particularly when a task’s cognitive demands weigh hefty on your handling power.

Yet, the issue with distractions is not the distraction us but the guilt us feel after ~ succumbing to the distraction. 

We blame ourselves for falling under the wikihole and watching hrs of time-wasting Youtube videos rather of placing our nose to the grindstone. 

The build-up of time-wasters breeds an adverse self-talk, putting our currently overheated meat computer into overdrive.

The key is to gamify ours distractions together a prize system, refocusing ours cognition top top productivity’s emotional element.


4. Use A modified Pomodoro Technique

I’m walking to be honest: my time management an abilities used to be utterly horrendous. 

One minute i was prepared to conquer my day-to-day tasks. The following moment, i was implanting mine opinion into the digital Zeitgeist that is Reddit. And the reality that I have ADHD didn’t aid at all.

That’s once I learned around the Pomodoro Technique.

I won’t acquire into the origins of the Pomodoro technique too much. Still, the simply of it is the you job-related on one task specifically for 25-minutes, then take a quick break prior to moving onto another task (or it might be the same task again).

 The basic steps space as follows:

Determine which task to perform.Set a 25-minute timer.Work on said task.End that job after 25-minutes and record a checkmark on a item of paper.Take a 5-minute rest if you have fewer than 4 checkmarks and go back to the start (it doesn’t always have to it is in the very same task every Pomodoro). Or take it a 15–30 minute break if girlfriend have much more than 4 checkmarks.

See more: A Basic Assumption Underlying Short-Term Memory Is That It Is

Any time you finish a certain task before the timer goes off, you need to not relocate onto a brand-new task. Instead, take some time come reflect on her work, modify your writing, or gain into the ideal headspace because that your following 25-minute interval.

Here’s whereby the change comes in: 

I include an emotional reflection ingredient at the end of every interval, asking myself: How did ns feel throughout the task? 

This inquiry helps come avoid psychological burnout and also enhance productivity. Ns able to physically notate my mood to obtain a much better understanding that the task. 

Also, it help me to set my day-to-day schedule up because that success. For example, if one 25-minute interval made me feeling mentally drained, i may plan on the next task come be fairly simple so ns don’t go crazy. 

Give it a shot if you have actually some time, and also make sure to check out more great mindfulness, gratitude, and self-improvement info from the Bro Journal