The accelerated pace at which the world is advancing has placed enormous pressure on humans. Technology has, without question, changed the world that we live in. Although it allows us to do more than we ever did before, the need to multitask in order to keep up is ever-present in our lives.
Dr. Adam Gazzaley is an M.D. and P.H.D. in Neuroscience at the Mont Sinai School of Medicine in New York. His research has shown that interruptions in the workplace take place, on average, every 5 minutes and that average response times to text messages is roughly one minute.
He believes that humans, nowadays, are always in need of being switched on and that incessant distraction is the new normal. Dr. Gazzaley has even coined the term ‘Phantom Pocket Vibration Syndrome’ which is the perception that one's mobile phone is vibrating or ringing when it is not.
The constant distractions all around us, in every waking moment of the day, makes it extraordinarily difficult to give our full, prolonged, deep attention to anything.
We are often taught that the ability to multitask gives us the feeling that we are getting more done. But, in reality, how possible is it to be 100% focused we when we are multitasking? And how does it get in the way of being more productive?
Linda Stone, a world-renowned consultant for Apple and Microsoft calls it Continuous Partial Attention (CPA). She believes that most people are caught up in this state with regularity in their lives. Linda's work shows that multitasking does not improve performance. It actually leads to our focus being fragmented and disjointed.
So, what can you do about this? I’m certainly not claiming to have the right answers, but what I have learned is that focus is a ‘trainable skill’. Research suggests that if we can become more aware of where we are placing our energy and attention, we can begin to address the levels of distraction in our busy lives. Bearing this in mind, is it possible to decrease the amount of multitasking in our lives?
In closing, some questions to think about are:
How might we better goal-set in order to prioritize what is on our to-do lists for each day?
How can we create the time and space needed to address one task or challenge at a time whenever possible?
And lastly, how can we minimize multitasking in order to maximize our attention, focus and productivity?
Thanks for reading.
KAUST Faculty, Pedagogical Coach. Presenter & Workshop Leader.IB Educator. #RunYourLife podcast host.