In our times, multitasking is the norm. Many organizations list the ability to multitask effectively as a top requirement across a variety of job descriptions. We pride ourselves on being able to do two things at once in order to save time and, theoretically, be more productive. But research shows this may not be the case.
It makes you think twice
It is possible to do two things at once. However, multitasking is actually just switching our attention back-and-forth quickly between two cognitive tasks. And, when we divide our attention, we make more mistakes and end up taking longer to complete the tasks. In essence, we are really "multiswitching."
Dr. Travis Bradberry, a leading expert on emotional intelligence and published author, says that multitasking may be damaging our brains. He points to research from Stanford University which compared groups of people based on their tendency to multitask and their belief that it helps their performance. They found that heavy multitaskers - those who multitask a lot and feel that it boosts their performance - were actually worse at multitasking than those who like to do a single thing at a time. The frequent multitaskers performed worse because they had more trouble organizing their thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information, and they were slower at switching from one task to another.
On top of all of this, we have a running commentary in our brains from that little voice that is always giving us opinions and offering advice on any and every thing that we experience. Some of us (like me) have entire committees giving us their input, whether we ask for it or not. It's a wonder we're not all completely insane!
to sit quietly in a room alone."
- Blaise Pascal
• lower stress
• reduce anxiety
• lower blood pressure
• reduce chronic pain
• improve mental clarity
• increase emotional awareness
• increase engagement in activities
• form deeper connections with others
BEGINNING A REGULAR MINDFULNESS PRACTICE
FORMAL MINDFULNESS - MINDFULNESS MEDITATION (10 to 20 mintues daily)
*You can also follow along with the guided "Mindfulness of the Breath" meditation below.
1.) Set a timer for 10-20 minutes. Find a place that is relatively free from distractions. Sit comfortably in an upright chair or on the floor. Make sure that your back is straight and that your spine and neck are supported. You should be alert but not rigid. Give yourself permission to be here now. You can close your eyes or keep them opened and softly focused.
2.) Take several deep breaths in and out. On the in breath, you may want to quietly say in the back of your mind, "peace." On the out breath, you can say "stress." Continue breathing in "peace" and breathing out "stress" until you feel that you are mostly present and centered. Give your attention to this meditation session in a way that is genuinely interested and accepting of whatever happens.
3.) Begin to breathe normally. Pay attention to where you feel the breath as you breathe in and out. Do you feel it at the tip of the nose? The back of the throat? The chest or abdomen? Also, notice the temperature of the air as you breathe in and out. When is it warm? When is it cool? Wherever you notice the breath most strongly, keep your attention there as you continue to breathe normally.
4.) The mind will wander. This is normal. To help your mind stay focused, you can softly say in the back of your mind, "breathing in" and "breathing out." Each time your attention wanders, simply return to the breath by using these words along with noticing where you feel the breath most.
5.) Continue breathing normally and keep coming back to the breath when your mind wanders. We all get lost in our thoughts and stories during meditation. The important point is that you keep coming back to the breath. Every time you return to the breath is actually a moment of mindfulness. Avoid criticizing yourself or trying too hard to figure this all out. Practice makes progress.
6.) When your timer goes off, return your attention to the space where you are seated. Take one or two deep breaths and then go about the rest of your day, bringing a little more mindfulness into everything you do. You may want to journal about your experiences following your meditation sessions to deepen your practice and to review your progress over time.
Along with meditation, it's important to practice mindfulness as a part of our daily tasks and routines. Try one or two of these informal mindfulness practices per week and as often as possible each day. Simply keep your attention on the task itself, and when your mind wanders, bring your attention back to the task.
• brushing your teeth
• taking a shower
• eating a meal
• opening doors
• composing an email
• answering a phone call
• checking social media
• stopping in traffic
If you would like help bringing more mindfulness into your life and work, CONTACT me to schedule a free 30 minute session to see if coaching could be right for you.
Click below for an 8-minute guided meditation covering mindfulness of the breath.
Listen to my Blog Talk Radio interview about mindfulness with host Sharissa Sebastian.
The opportunity: Changing your habits can help you maximize your time and energy.
The solution: Get control of your routine and make the most of your days with these 5 powerful tips.
I've been reflecting recently on how I structure my day according to my priorities and what will give me the most benefit (based on Pareto's Principle which states that roughly 20% of actions produce 80% of results). In doing this, I realized that I wasn't optimizing the time of the day when I'm at my most productive so I decided to change my routine.
It's critical to prepare your heart, your mind, and your body first thing in the morning. Will power is a lot like a muscle. Your will power is at its strongest first thing in the morning. The hours from 5 - 8am are the golden hours. This is when you have the most mental power and focus. When you optimize these hours, you will do more in a day than most people do in a month. Winning the battle of the bed gives you more mental confidence and makes you feel more like a leader than a victim.
According to research it takes 66 days of practice to hardwire in a new mental pathway to start a habit until it becomes part of your neural hardwiring. You will literally not be able to get up later after 5am after 66 days.
Here's the 20/20/20 rule for the first hour that I learned from Robin Sharma. He suggests waking up at exactly 5am every morning but I wake up at 4:45am to allow enough time to have a protein shake. Eating a meal within 30 minutes of waking will help increase the rate of your metabolism which has slowed down to conserve the stored energy.
First 20 minutes - Exercise (walk, run, swim, jump rope, etc). That's a complete game changer. This releases dopamine, the motivational neurotransmitter, and makes you feel strong. It will also release serotonin which makes you feel happier. You'll boost your metabolic rate and feel more energized.
Second 20 minutes - Review plan, daily schedule, purpose. It will give you focus, passion, inspiration. The secret of passion is to know your daily, yearly and even lifetime purpose. I spend a few minutes doing this and the rest of the time in prayer/meditation.
Last 20 minutes - Learn. 'Education is inoculation against disruption'. The world belongs to learners. As you know more you can achieve more. Read ebooks, listen to audio books, listen to Ted talks, or read a hard copy of a book.
Here are some tips to help with your routine:
1. Plan rising at 5am on your daily schedule. Write your holy hour on your schedule. When you write things down you literally deepen your commitment. It deepens it in your awareness and gives you the discipline we need. It also increases clarity of thought. The things you get scheduled are the things that get done. Vague goals lead to vague results.
2. Get a great nights rest. Don't use your computer before you go to sleep. Do not bring that into the bedroom. Don't watch TV before you go to sleep in bed. To get the results only 5% of the population gets, you have to be prepared to do the things only 5% of population is willing to do.
3. Put your alarm clock in another room or across the room so you have to get out of bed when it goes off.
4. Rituals work more than will power. Literally jump out of bed, maybe splash your face with water, and say your affirmations. You will become super productive, transform your mindset and become a super achiever.
5. Keep what's motivating you at the forefront of your mind. This could be looking at your vision board, or just mentally focusing on your personal or professional goals and why they're important to you. Having an accountability partner to keep you on track also helps.
Are you ready to join the 5am club with me?
~ Victor Hugo