6 Ways Mono-taskers Win With Life & Sleep

The old me didn’t have time for reasonable thinking when it came to multitasking! Was I deeply in denial? You bet!
Elevated cortisol levels, less ability to focus, more mistakes, my safety, and likely wear and tear on my brain were the true costs of my multitasking habits. I have made some concessions to mono-tasking over the years but it took a special event-moment for me to have a break through. And now I’m a real convert to mono-tasking.

 

Chase just one rabbit at a time.

    A man who chases two rabbits, catches none –    Confucius                           

                                                                                                                                                                                                         

The Problem: Multitasking

 

A more accurate description for multitasking is rapid task switching. As we switch from one task to another our brains burn extra energy. We burn up our precious energy doing the equivalent of spinning our wheels!

 

Using more than one form of technology is a common way of multitasking. We feel good each time we send an email or get a new bit of news on Facebook but it’s really not helping our brains or helping us accomplish our priorities for the day.

 

Most importantly, multitasking leads to our bodies producing more of the stress hormone cortisol. Too much cortisol can interfere with getting to sleep and staying asleep.

 

In fact there are studies suggesting multitasking wears on the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) of our brain. This area of our brain seems to be “involved when effort is needed to carry out a task such as in early learning and problem-solving.” This is from a general summary I found on Wiki-how. Obviously not a good idea to be stressing and possibly wearing this part of my brain “thin”!

 

And yet, I have been quite guilty of multitasking in the past. Cooking and talking on the phone or texting while listening to lectures are two of my favorites. I thought I was getting something accomplished while still meeting another obligation. I didn’t realize how much energy I was wasting, let alone how much I was stressing my brain.

 

There are also the social consequences. I’m sure my phone conversations were diminished when I wasn’t fully paying attention to my caller!

 

While I switched my attention between talking and cooking I missed out on the satisfaction of being present to the aromas and sensations of cooking. And check out this burnt oatmeal that resulted from letting it cook while I took a bath! That was a little stress add-on. How many of these little add-on stresses can one afford?

Burnt oatmeal in glass pan.

This is the burnt oatmeal!

Then there’s the stress of being inefficient and taking more time to get things done. Those stresses and frustrations can keep your mind on alert and also interfere with a good night’s sleep.

 

The solution: Mono-tasking

 

One day I stopped multitasking long enough to attend a meditation workshop. The teachers last words of the day were about the total silliness of multitasking, especially for one who is thinking they are practicing mindfulness! I felt like it was an answer to a question I would have been smart to be asking! Bing, busted! I had to truly begin letting go of the areas where my rapid tasking-switching was still in play.

 

Now I’m staying conscious to one task at a time as much as possible. Example…

 

I set a timer for my work sessions. I do well when I work on one project for 25 minutes. Sometimes I set the timer for 45 minutes. It depends on the difficulty of the project.  Between sessions, I take breaks. Breaks may consist of: getting a cup of tea, stretching, doing another task like folding clothes, talking a walk in nature, doing some yoga, or doing some conscious doodling.

 

6 Ways Mono-tasking Wins and Allows Us More Yummy Sleep

 

  • Enjoy less stress when focusing on one task. Mono-tasking is one way to lower our stress and keep cortisol levels in a healthy range. With our cortisol in balance our body will be well prepared to go into a good and deep sleep cycle during the night.

 

  • Be more efficient. The vast majority of people are much more efficient and effective when they do one activity at a time. Many people feel they are good at multitasking, yet research shows that most people are not. Mono-tasking is a more productive way to go about life in general. It’s easier to let go into rest and off to sleep at night when you have the calmness of focus that mono-tasking can help promote.

 

  • Be more accurate. Doing one thing at a time is making the most of your smarts! People who multitask a lot were found to have less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex, ACC, of their brains. This thinning of the ACC may be long lasting. This is an area of the brain responsible for empathy as well as cognitive and emotional control. I gathered the above information from an article in the Huffington Post by Dr. Travis Bradberry.

 

  • Mono-task and be safer. We make more mistakes when we multi-task. The classic example is texting while driving, which can cause terrible results including death. In a daily kind of example,                                                I was trying to clean up the kitchen while talking on the phone. A dinner plate crashed to the floor due to a lack of attention while placing the plate on an unstable surface! If I had a singular focus on cleaning up the kitchen I would have made a better choice of where to stack that now-shattered plate.

 

  • Conserve your precious energy. Why not have your best energy last as long as possible throughout your day? Mono-tasking will give you a leg up on having a good amount of energy as you move through your entire day. Your willpower will stay stronger too. This way you won’t be so tempted to push yourself with stimulants. You’ll be in a better frame of mind and physical state to have a relaxing evening and a great night’s sleep.

 

  • Mono-tasking when you communicate makes you a good listener and speaker too!  As a speaker, it feels so good to have someone’s undivided attention. And it feels so good to listen with all your senses. When it’s too much work to be present in social situations maybe it’s better to say so and re-schedule the conversation or social time.

 

Want to catch your rabbit and meet your less physical goals too? Let go of attempting to do two things at once! Doing one thing at a time is really the faster and more direct route to accomplishing what you want to for your day and your night. Build a stronger brain. Be more accurate. Plus, with mono-tasking, you’ll be safer in the process!

 

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4 Responses to “6 Ways Mono-taskers Win With Life & Sleep

  • Judy Narimatsu
    ago2 years

    Oh, I think my ACC has been under fire for the last year. Trying to build a house and failing. My engery has an is pulled in various directions. Buying a home that needed oh so much renovations. Now selling that home, packing again and then trying to take care of another home left to our family by a recently deceased relative and then trying to purchase another home where we can finally relax and get centered again. This whole process has worn me down that all I want to do is sleep and hide and somehow regenerate my body an soul. So mult tasking is not healthy but somehow calls us to perform. But I do find “one thing @ a time” or nothing gets done properly. Too many rabbits to chase and it is more that 2 @ this point in time. I think this post is very timely for me. Been so busy that I cant even help with my grandkids and that makes me feel the worse of all.

    • Oh my dear. You have a lot on your plate. I’m glad you are speaking about it. Sounds like you are craving quiet and rest.

      Knowing you I see what a great appetite for life you have! You give wonderfully of yourself. Hope you can soak in the nurturance you need.
      (Hope this isn’t too schmaltzy.) Wishing you the best 💗

  • Judy Narimatsu
    ago2 years

    Thank u Farin. No it isnt too schmaltzy. It is just what I needed and it sounds so u
    I dont mean to complain @ all but your post came @ the correct time in my life and so fitting.
    I hope others will share their life multi tasking. I am craving a nice quiet spot to rejuvenate.

    Take care and thank u for your response and your lovely posts

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