Men can multi-task: Top tips to get everything done
Read on for five simple steps to improving concentration and giving your productivity a boostGuestbloggers Dr Michael Sinclair and Josie Seydel
Of course men can multitask, although research does suggest that women are ‘better’ at mutli-tasking (i.e make fewer mistakes and can do more things at once).
However, it still doesn’t mean that multi-tasking is at all effective, for anyone.
Multi-tasking is sometimes dubbed ‘the art of messing several things up at once’ - this is NOT an accolade. Just to prove the point, how about trying the following two exercises:
Task 1: At the same time, making as few mistakes as possible, as quickly as possible: text a friend saying ‘Hi, just trying a multitasking experiment, will explain later’, rotate your left foot in a circle five times, sing a tune (try ‘yellow submarine’ if nothing else comes to mind).
Task 2. Do each of the above, but one at a time, making as few mistakes as possible and as quickly as possible.
Now ask yourself, which was the quickest, least stressful and the task where you made the least mistakes.
At work this is no doubt even more apparent, especially with the boss breathing down your neck, a deadline looming, work mounting up and the inevitable panic setting in.
So how about trying something different?
It does often feel counter-intuitive not to rush about haphazardly from one thing to another, even if you know it isn’t really helping, and this is because you may have trained your brain to be heavily distracted – at work, according to research, this can actually mean that for up to 50% of the time your mind may be wandering off task.
So it is time to rewire your brain to get focussed, effective and really productive using the simple practice of mindfulness.
This is a scientifically supported way to also reduce stress, get more creative, improve your memory, make better decisions, have healthy working relationships and get everything done.
If you want to try training your mind to become more focussed give the following very simple exercise a go, try it frequently (two to three times a day) for at least a week:
1. First begin by noticing that you are breathing. You should find that you are doing this all the time, anywhere you go! This means you can do this exercise anywhere, anytime.
2. Watch your breath flowing into your body, starting at the nose or mouth, and then follow the course of the breath as it leaves the body. Allow yourself to pay good attention to the physical sensations of breathing.
3. If your mind wanders, don’t panic, this is just your habitual distractibility appearing, it is inevitable and normal. Just be gentle but firm in guiding your focus back to the sensations of breathing.
4. Any thoughts, emotions or physical sensations that you notice can now be observed, you do not need to engage with them, embellish them or push them away. Just see them appear and come back to the breath.
5. Allow yourself to watch the breath come and go for a few minutes. Doing this keeps you present-moment focussed, and every time you notice and are aware of the present moment (in this exercise by watching the breath) you are strengthening concentration.
With time and practice you will see that your distractibility decreases and that you can apply the same technique that you have used here for watching the breath towards any task, so at work you are improving your productivity and decreasing stress.
To find out more about how mindfulness can help you reduce stress, gain confidence and get more done you might like to read our new book Working With Mindfulness, which is available now from all good book shops, online and in-store.
Dr Michael Sinclair and Josie Seydel are the authors of Working with Mindfulness. It is out now, published by Pearson, priced £13.99