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The Truth about Multitasking

November 5th, 2012

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In this fast-paced world, we have come to believe that "Multitasking" is a great skill, a needed one in fact, something all of us should master and can boost about. Well, the truth is, multitasking is not so good for you.

multitasking

According to Wikipedia:
Human multitasking is the best performance by an individual of appearing to handle more than one task at the same time. The term is derived from computer multitasking.

This new word: "multitasking" has become a synonym of efficiency, speed, professionalism, etc. which is a total lie, another illusion we live under, an illusion imposed by the crazy pace of life we are all victims of.
Constantly switching from one task to another means we are putting less attention on each task and affecting the way our brain performs, we are more likely to make errors and ironically we waste more time.

From a very early age now, we subject our young kids to tight agendas, too many extracurricular activities which, in my opinion, contributes partly to the latest epidemic of ADD and ADHD. Our kids have to move from one activity to the next with no break, and often because of lack of time they have to handle more than one task at a time, like doing their homework while eating their supper for instance. We are making our kids handle too many things at once, which is not healthy, especially for a developing brain.

As human beings, our nature, our essence, our true self is meant to BE, rather than to DO. This does not mean we should sit around and do nothing, what it means is that we have a right and a real need to find a space to just BE, like a tree, like a flower, like an animal, we need to just BE, and stop all the doing.
What happens now is that we have totally neglected our state of "being" to favor our state of "doing" to the point that we have lost touch with our true self.

We feel like we have to be doing something all the time, because we are not comfortable with just being, we are not comfortable with our most innate and natural state. So we do more and more and "thanks" to our modern technology, we now can do many things at the same time, we can send an email, while we walk the dog and listen to music; we can be on the phone while we work on the computer and eat lunch, it is simply INSANE!

Besides, this new idea of multitasking is taking all the fun out of actually enjoying any particular task, because we are not truly present when doing anything. In positive psychology, there is a very interesting concept called "flow," it was introduced by psychologist: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Flow is the mental state in which a person is fully involved in an activity to the point of loosing track of time, this state induces great joy and satisfaction, which in turn constitutes great fuel for our brain and our overall well being.

For some people the state of flow only happens when they are forced to be totally focused in a certain task, for instance running a marathon, or climbing a mountain, these are activities where there is no room for distraction, so no room for any other parallel activity nor thought. Many people can still experience flow, however, while doing things like: painting, dancing, etc. this is especially true of artists, when they enter a state of deep inspiration.

One of the beauties of being in a state of flow is that it takes you right to the present moment, nothing else matters but what you are doing, and you are bringing all your focus to it, this means you are fully in the present. Which brings us back to the concept of being as opposed to doing. If we are in the present moment, totally present with the task at hand, we are "being" not just doing.

So the state of flow goes against the idea of multitasking, where we have no time for true concentration, no time for full attention, no time for real enjoyment, no time for being. We are not wired for multitasking, and we are creating unnecessary stress in our bodies by doing so, no matter how simple the tasks may seem.

The idea of being fully present at every moment means we do things in a mindful way, that is, in a conscious and aware state. When we do anything mindfully we are more likely to do it right, at the right time and with better results. So I encourage you to rethink your multitasking this week!

If you wish to read more about Flow, I highly recommend the book: Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Have a great week!

Announcements:

*The 21-day Meditation Challenge from the Chopra Center starts TODAY November 5th. Sign up, it is free and it is a wonderful opportunity to get you started on meditation or to refresh your existing practice!

*The Silva Life System Workshop (for DC, VA and MD residents), November 17-18. This is a wonderful Workshop that I highly recommend, I did it a few years back and it really opened my eyes! For more info contact Diana or Richard at:703-866-4030 or Email: silvamethod@cox.net

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