GNcareers, from Gulf News

Multitasking? Time to apply the brakes

The side effects of doing multiple tasks at one time have life coaches worriedImage Credit: Supplied

All working professionals, winning awards for versatility, beware! All that multitasking might be doing you more harm than good. In today’s world of spiraling competition, lay-offs and mergers, the serious side effects of multitasking have had life coaching experts more than worried.

Emerging studies point to some well-observed truths: multitaskers are prone to making mistakes, more likely to miss important information and cues, and less capable of retaining information. In a nutshell, attention deficit disorder is spreading like wildfire in the workplace.

The most important step to developing high-quality focus is to curb emotional frenzy. It is the feeling of being a little out of control, often underpinned by anxiety, sadness, anger and related emotions. Negative emotions interfere with the brain’s ability to solve problems or do other cognitive work. Positive emotions and thoughts do the opposite. They improve the brain’s executive function and help open the door to creative and strategic thinking.

The challenge is to improve the balance of positive and negative emotions by taming negative emotional frenzy through exercise, meditation and proper sleep. It is also important to learn to apply the brakes. Distractions are always lurking: wayward thoughts, emotions, sounds or interruptions. Fortunately, the brain is designed to instantly stop a random thought or an unnecessary action.

Become aware of your options, stop what you are doing and address the distraction, or let it go. In the workplace, ensure meetings are distraction-free and employees are giving undivided attention.

When you turn your attention to a new task, shift your focus from your mind to your body. Go for a walk, climb stairs, do some deep breathing or stretches. Even if you aren’t aware of it, when you are doing this, your brain continues working on your past tasks. Sometimes new ideas emerge during such physical breaks.

Handy Hints:

* Studies show multitasking leads to attention deficit disorder

* Train your brain to avoid distractions and focus on task at hand

* Take physical breaks to refresh your mind, generate new ideas

Source: Debasree Banerjee, Special to Jobs & Careers

The writer is Corporate Communications Manager, Blue Ocean Academy, Dubai