A matter of focus or distraction? Busting the myth of multitasking

News | 2 min Read

Scrolling through Instagram while brushing your teeth. Answering an email while you’re eating your cereal. Sounds like the average Monday morning, right? Our growing symbiosis with technologies such as our smartphones have led us to believe that we’re all masters of multitasking. All of us are doing it, day after day, leaving us in what some people are calling the Age of Distraction. So, are you really deciding how you are focusing your attention? Or is technology the boss of you?

We hate to break it to you, but multitasking isn’t as productive as it seems. While we like to believe that we can master the art of doing ten things at a time, science has taught us otherwise: multitasking is nothing more than rapid switching between tasks. An extremely tiring occupation, so it seems, since multitasking drains the exact same juice our brain needs to keep its focus. Thus, while you’re multitasking to get things done, you’re also constantly losing your hold on the necessary attention to do so. Ironic, isn’t it?

Burning up brain fuel and losing time

Multitasking isn’t just costing you necessary brain fuel—it’s also silently eating away at your performance. While research shows that the average person needs 23 minutes and 15 seconds to acquire deep task focus, the average multitasker the case is much worse for task-hoppers. While multitasking might make you feel like you’re running ahead of time, you’re in fact losing precious pieces of focus along the way.

Overall, multitasking can cause you to lose up to 40% of your productivity. Plus, all that switching between to do’s affects your ability to take some well-deserved quality time off. Just think about the last time you interrupted a dinner date with a fast glimpse on your phone. Satisfying at first, but it doesn’t really set the mood, does it? Giving yourself a chance to relax and recharge is equally, if not more important than being deeply focused and productive—and multitasking isn’t doing any good to either of them. It’s rather easy to blame it all on technology, though. Let’s be honest. Did your smartphone make you depend on it? Or did you maybe let it happen just a teensy bit?

Yes, most applications on your phone were designed just to draw your attention and make you linger a little longer. But multi-tasking is also a behavioural pattern, which means you have the power to change it.

Four quick tips to master your attention in the Age of Distraction.

1.Take a break

So, you have a lot on your plate. That’s understandable, but it doesn’t mean you have to do everything all at once. Your brain needs to recharge every now and then, meaning breaks between tasks or throughout your day are imperative. When you take a break, be sure to spend that time entirely in the moment, without any other (digital) distractions. It doesn’t have to be much: research shows that even a 15- minute break every couple of hours is enough to boost your productivity.

2.Organisation is key

Planning ahead is probably the best way to ensure your focus, as it helps you to be aware of the tasks at hand and the focus they require. You don’t even have to anticipate all too much—planning one day at a time is already to reap the benefits of this technique. Make sure to allot enough time for each task (and then some) and put the hardest ones on top of the list. This way, you will be able to tackle your tasks with more focus and release the pressure towards the end of the day.

3.Manage your attention, not your time

Everyone has the same number of hours in a day. So, to check off every item on your day’s list, managing that time is of the essence. Don’t get stuck in endless meetings or force your brain to keep breaking down one specific task. Rather, spread your workload throughout the day and prioritise the people and projects that matter.

In this respect, attention management is much more important than time management. Because fulfilment isn’t in time efficiency, it’s in getting things done for the right reasons.

4.Switch off distractions

Technology allows us to by hyperconnected, but it also creates habits in your daily routine that makes you dependent on them. (Think about it. When was the last time you didn’t have your phone with you?) Taking action to reduce these distractions can tremendously increase your productivity. It all starts with getting friendly with the Do Not Disturb mode, really. And if that doesn’t help, you can still physically leave your phone at home or put it out of your sight. After all, what the eyes don’t see, the heart can’t grieve.

Leveraging technology as a catalyst for focus

Technology is probably one of the fastest growing phenomena humanity has ever encountered. In just a few decades, several devices have taken their place in our daily lives, giving rise to global awareness about the way we spend our time and engage with these devices. That’s why we like to scratch the surface off the newest developments, breaking them down to understand the dynamics that drive them. As our products evolve and our grasp on hi-tech tightens, we’ll deepen our dissection of trends and tendencies, always looking for ways to make your life and ours better and more meaningful.

Because at JUCE, we don’t see technology as the enemy. We see it as a liberator and an enabler that can help us focus on the people and moments that matter. Just like Sonos blasts music through your kitchen, bathroom and garden in one go, JUCE enhances your focus and gives you back some quality time.

You’re welcome.

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