In our current climate of rapid change and increased connectivity, multitasking is often regarded as a crucial way to keep up.
By addressing multiple things at once, we feel that we’re using our time efficiently and preventing the chance of falling behind.
However, this juggling act might be doing more harm than good.
“While you may think it helps you get more done in less time, multitasking actually leads to burnout,” says Dr. Natalia Peart, Clinical Psychologist, Fortune 500 Executive Leadership Consultant, and author of FutureProofed: How to Navigate Disruptive Change, Find Calm in Chaos, and Succeed in Work & Life.
Here’s how to refocus your scattered attention, before you lose your balance entirely.
Focus on tasks that complement each other.
If you’re struggling with multitasking, it isn’t because you’re not smart enough. The truth is, our brains simply aren’t wired to work that way.
“We’re not built to do two things that require the same cognitive brain attention at the same time,” says Dr. Peart. “Performance on each task will deteriorate, causing you to make mistakes.”
So if you’re regularly sending emails while talking on the phone, it’s only a matter of time before you make an embarrassing typo.
If you’re going to balance tasks together, make sure that they complement each other appropriately. For instance, try brainstorming blog topics while taking a shower.
A stressful schedule can cause us to seek quicker solutions, but it’s important to be conscious of the end game.
After all, what good is “quick” if you’re not proud of your ultimate performance?
Don’t forget to listen to your body.
When it comes to our work flow, we’re often searching for a better strategy or fool-proof solution to tackling it all.
Peart recommends that instead of listening to everybody with a productivity hack, we should first and foremost remember to listen to ourselves.
Far too often, we fail to pay attention to our body signals and push ourselves to power through. By fighting against our body rather than leveraging its natural cycles, we’re bound to face burnout.
“Start seeing your work as a series of sprints, not a marathon,” says Peart. “Give your brain a chance to restore its energy.”
To do this, avoid staying chained to your desk. Don’t be afraid to get up and stretch from time to time.
Also, make room in your calendar for activities that you truly enjoy. Even during especially chaotic times, it’s important to reward yourself.
Finding your “flow” becomes a lot less complicated with a dash of self-awareness.
Less going through the motions, more emphasis on the big picture.
When our lives revolve around our daily responsibilities, we’re bound to lose enthusiasm over time.
By toggling between tasks at an aggressive rate, we’re essentially escalating the inevitable.
“Constantly shifting your attention between tasks throughout the day disengages from what you’re doing,” says Peart. “It reduces the psychological satisfaction you receive from completing that task – whether it’s doing the dishes or building a website.”
Instead of treating life like an endless checklist, remind yourself of your overarching vision. Think about what’s meaningful and fulfilling to you, and the path you can take to get there.
Dr. Peart suggests reflecting every Sunday on the week ahead. Ask yourself, “Am I doing one or two things that will get me to where I want to be long-term?”
If the answer is no, reassess accordingly. Spread tasks throughout the week that serve your big picture.
Rather than resenting your responsibilities, you’ll begin to appreciate the fact that they’re moving you toward your goal.