Multi-tasking is a Myth

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A recent article in Stone Hearth Newsletters reinforced the importance of intentional presence in dispelling myths about multi-tasking.

One myth is believing that we can focus on two mental activities at once.  While it is true that we can engage in unconscious activities (like brushing teeth) while thinking about something else, we cannot successfully focus on two activities that require conscious focus. For example, if reading an email during a coaching conversation, we would not be able to process the information in either well. In other words, multi-tasking leads to mindlessness. And mindlessness is the antithesis of powerful coaching.

A second myth is believing we can go back and forth between mental activities and stay on top of both of them.  In fact, when we regularly multi-task we are more likely to have a decrease in our ability to regulate emotion and a decrease in our ability to control our impulses.  Instead, in Organize Your Mind, Margaret Moore suggests that an agile mind will let go of one task fully, allowing a pause for the emptying of the pre-frontal cortex, before intentionally shifting to the next task.  Transitioning to the next task is most successful with a connection to the intention: What’s my goal? Why does this next task matter? What’s my higher purpose?  This can even be applied when moving from one coaching conversation to the next, asking “What do I need now to fully focus on this client?” and then fully devoting all of your brain’s resources to that conversation.

In the past 24 hours, how often have you shifted your attention fully from one activity to another, not thinking about the last task or anything else?

 

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