How much have you got on your to-do list today?
If like many of us, your list is growing ever longer, you’ll know what it’s like to reach 5pm (if that’s even close to when you finish) most days and wonder how much you’ve achieved.
According to Dr Megan Reitz, the ‘average’ employee is interrupted at work every 11 minutes, and takes around 25 minutes to get back on task. This means we do our best to multi-task, but often still feel like we’ve fallen short in some way.
Here’s one explanation why.
Latest research is starting to indicate that we don’t actually multi-task.
In fact, it seems the brain can’t concentrate on more than one thing at a time. What we actually do is shift our attention – rapidly – from task to task. So you might go from emails, to mobile, to conversation, to social media and back to emails again. It feels like we’re doing several things at once, but – scientifically – we’re not.
According to Manoush Zomorodi, a decade ago we shifted our attention at work every three minutes. Now, we switch tasks up to 566 times a day – that’s roughly every 45 seconds. And, every time you switch attention, you use up nutrients in the brain to accomplish that. No wonder we feel exhausted.
A little while ago, a very busy colleague gave away a trade secret that helped her stay focused and on task every single day. And today I’m going to share it with you.
This week, set the intention to Do One Thing. If you write your to do list each day this week, write only one thing on it. This helps in two ways: first, it helps you decide the most important thing that needs to get done today. Second, it means you’ll spend the day focused on ensuring it gets done – because it’s the only thing you’ve set the intention to do. When you give your time and attention to just one thing, you’ll find that even if your mind wanders away from the task (maybe because you’re bored) the process of allowing your mind to roam can help you be more creative and discover answers to things that may be weighing on your mind. You can use mindfulness to recognise when your mind has started to drift, and when you’re ready, gently bring it back to being here in this moment.
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Copyright Delphi Ellis 2019