Why mindfulness and multitasking don’t mix

Are you a multitasking maven?

Do you love the whole concept of mindfulness? Do you also get unusually excited when you can get an abnormal amount of things done simultaneously? Sometimes I feel like a giddy supermom, so proud of myself.

There’s a problem though. We think we’re more efficient when we do more than one thing at a time. However, more and more research is finding that this isn’t true at all; multitasking actually slows you down. And it gets worse…

Multitasking is bad for your brain; it’s even been found to lower IQ!


Electronic gadgets only tempt us to distraction even more. The multitasking lifestyle has become normal, but really isn’t good for you.

It’s also so scary to know that THIS is our kids’ life-long experience. The way social media naturally interrupts so much of our day is what they know and have grown up with. Generally speaking, young people have had had fewer opportunities for deep focus.

When you’re multitasking, you’re not focused or present. This is a problem.

You’re not as focused on what you’re actually doing. You’re giving a bit of focus to lots of things. Energy and attention goes into moving from task to task. It’s not the best way to go through life because you’re not focusing on anything deeply.

Also, when you tend to focus on the endpoint; when you do that, you’re not in the moment. And…you waste a ton of time, constantly switching gears, especially when you add in all of the time you take to check social media.  Here’s a link to an interesting article about some of the current research.

Tom Sterner, of The Practicing Mind, doesn’t believe in the concept of multitasking.

Sterner says that our culture’s focus on productivity is what drives this desire to do multiple things at the same time but our brain doesn’t work that way.

Sterner calls what we do “switch tasking” instead of multitasking because our brain works in a more linear fashion and does one process at a time. He explains that it happens quickly so it seems like multitasking to us but it really isn’t at all.

He goes on to describe all of the stopping and starting our brain has to do to accommodate our multitasking habits as huge energy wasters. We become more scattered and less focused as a result. The irony is that we think things take longer when we’re more mindful and present in our activity, but in reality, we’re more productive. Sterner says the reason is because when we focus, “we are operating more in harmony with how our brains naturally function.”

It’s interesting to notice how comfortable you are focusing on something specific.

How do you feel when you focus on one thing at a time?

  • Are you relaxed spending time that way?
  • Do you think that you should be doing something else too?
  • Do you think you’re not being efficient?
  • Do you feel like you’re wasting time doing only one thing?
  • Do you want to check your Facebook feed or email?

be present mindfulnessWhy do you think you’re resisting the idea of doing one thing at a time?

How do you want to feel about allowing yourself to focus, now that you know it’s a good idea?

What would you have to think to create feeling that you want to feel when you are prioritizing focusing like this?

Whatever your answers are, it’s so good to know this about yourself. You now also know that you have an option to think the thought that creates the feeling you want when you know you want to focus and not multitask.

Want to make some changes? Here are tips to help you take the “multi” out of the task:

Consider making a social media schedule for yourself. Perhaps you only check your email 3 times a day, never touch your phone during a meal, or charge your phone outside of your bedroom at night

Turn off notifications so you have fewer distractions. Decide to do certain activities with no distractions. Some ideas are to read without listening to music, watch TV without looking at your phone, use the computer without checking Facebook, walk the dog without your headset on.

Commit to finishing something before you move on to another task. This will make a huge difference to your productivity. I bet you’ll feel pretty good when you cross completed tasks off your list too!

What do you think? Are you ready to make a commitment to doing things in your life a little differently?

One of the reasons I find this so fascinating is because of my life coaching focus to help clients regret-proof their lives.

When it comes to regret-proofing, my life coach clients consistently talk to me about wasting time.

They can’t believe so much time has gone by and that they still haven’t done things they thought they would have done by now. They are finally ready to prioritize so they don’t have regrets.

That’s why this is so important. Just imagine how much time we waste. Now, just imagine how amazing it would be to FOCUS some of that found time on new priorities related to regret-proofing your life!

Want to learn more?

Check out 10 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Bust Out of your Midlife Funk! It’s a great place to start taking more control over your life, one thought at a time!



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