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Multitasking is Failing: How to Stay Connected

Multitasking is Failing: How to Stay Connected

Nowadays, to be flexible is a state of delivery, service and excellence. Flexibility – like multitasking – is about focus, effort and alertness.

When we combine both flexibility and multitasking, we get stress. There is an approach – a practical way – to replace stress to the state of flow. From fast, wired, disruptive environment to the realm of connectness.

Multitasking drains the brain

We multitask for a few reasons. First, to save time and money. Secondly, to bring value by being productive and managing more in less effort. Third, we are in a flow when all things are in sort.

Multitasking is a brain drain that exhausts the mind, zaps cognitive resources and, if left unchecked, condemns us to early mental decline and decreased sharpness. Chronic multitaskers also have increased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which can damage the memory region of the brain.

Frequently switching between tasks overloads the brain and makes you less efficient. It’s a formula for failure in which your thoughts remain on the surface level and errors occur more frequently.

this-is-why-multitasking-is-failing-you
    How to switch from multitasking easily

    The control center of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, can handle just one new thing at a time, explains Jordan Grafman, Ph.D., chief of the cognitive neuroscience section of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. You can combine tasks that use different sensory channels in your brain. It is tough to send an e-mail and carry on a phone conversation (not that many of us do not try). But it’s pretty easy to fold clothes while listening to the weather report on the radio.

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    So how do you get more done without multitasking – or at least without multitasking to excess? Preparation is one answer. Discipline is also part of the mix. When you are working, train yourself to deflect distractions. As Dutch researchers recently reported in the journal Science, the unconscious mind is often a better problem solver than the focused one.

     

    Journaling leads to happiness,  Tim Ferriss example

    An attention time at the morning and evening sessions made Tim Ferriss 100% happier to reconnect with self. This can be your momentum too applying it right now to shift your multitasking into connectedness:

    Morning session in your journal jotting down:

    –          Three things you are grateful for.

    –          Three things that would make today great.

    –           An affirmation to prime you for the day ahead.

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    Evening session:

    –           Remember three amazing things that happened.

    –           Reflect on how you could have made your day better.

    Ferriss says he finds the quick journaling exercise, regardless of format, to be liberating and calming.

    S.A.V.E.R.S strategy to connect with self

    Taking it a step further, Hal Elrod in his best-selling book “Miracle Morning” shares the S.A.V.E.R.S strategy to with each  morning we can make the day more better. SAVERS is an acronym and each letter stands for the following:

    Silence – Minute One

    Imagine waking up in the morning, and spending the first minute sitting in purposeful silence. As you sit in silence, you’re totally present in the now, in the moment. You develop a deeper sense of peace, purpose, and direction.

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    Affirmations – Minute Two

    Read affirmations—the ones that remind you of your unlimited potential and your most important priorities—out loud from top to bottom. The reminders of how capable you really are gives you a feeling of confidence.

    Visualization – Minute Three

    You close your eyes, or you look at your vision board, and you visualize. Your visualization could include your goals and what it will look and feel like when you reach them.

    Scribing – Minute Four

    Take a few minutes to write down what you’re grateful for, what you’re proud of, and the results you’re committed to creating for that day. Doing so, you put yourself in an empowered, inspired, and confident state of mind.

    Reading – Minute Five

    Grab your self-help book and invest one miraculous minute reading a page or two. You learn a new idea, something that you can implement into your day. Discover something new that you can use to feel better.

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    Exercise – Minute Six

    Finally, stand up and spend the last minute doing jumping jacks for 60 seconds and getting your heart rate up. Get energized, wake up and increase your alertness and focus. Or in my case, I do five Tibetan healing exercises that bring energy to my entire body.

    How simple easy is that! Tim Ferriss is using these methods, and now it’s your turn.

    One thing at a time

    The rule of one says connect and put attention to one single matter. Science already has proven that  switching between tasks can cost you as much as 40% of your productivity, according to expert David Meyer. Doing one thing at a time is probably the most basic habit of concentration, and one of the most powerful. Focusing on one thing raises productivity, as multitasking trains to be less attentive.

    Featured photo credit: Qimono via pixabay.com

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    Loreta Pivoriunaite

    Life scientist, Coach

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    Published on November 18, 2019

    How to Think Critically: 5 Powerful Techniques

    How to Think Critically: 5 Powerful Techniques

    Critical thinking is the art of filtering through information to reach an unbiased, logical decision that guides better thought and action. It can be learned through powerful techniques listed in this article.

    Before you read further, it is important for you to know that critical thinking is a state of mind, not a tool or strategy.

    If you are bogged down in the trivial day to day matters of your professional and personal life, learning skills to develop your ability to think critically can help you rise above these issues and focus your energies where they are needed – to solve problems and accomplish objectives.

    It stands to reason that the better the learning techniques, the better critical thinking and reasoning will be. My experience in helping people grow means I know exactly what is needed to teach critical thinking (hint: it’s not just pondering over the problem).

    There are 5 powerful techniques that form the base of critical thinking:

    1. Analytical thinking
    2. Communication
    3. Creativity
    4. Open-mindedness
    5. Problem-solving

    Once you learn the techniques listed and start employing them in your daily life, you’ll quickly start to notice a change in the way you approach problems and consequently, how you resolve them too.

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    1. Analytical Thinking

    Analytical thinking is the gathering and breaking down of information into small bites that help make sense of it.

    To use it for critical thinking:

    • Be very clear on why you need the information. This is to recognize your limitations and employ foresight to overcome them.
    • Gather information from as many sources as you can: peers and experts, podcasts, relevant literature and any other place you can think of.
    • Rephrase questions multiple times to get different perspectives on data available and possibly arrive at different solutions.
    • Break down the data into factual subsets and relate each to the issue at hand.
    • Think on paper to make new connections. Write, doodle, make mind-maps or use spreadsheets. Data presented visually can help you make new connections make sense of emerging patterns.
    • Tidy up the workplace. Once data has been gathered, your workspace and your brain will both be cluttered with excess information. Neaten the physical space and clear your mind with meditation. The change in focus will help you view the information in a new light, potentially helping you reach newer, better conclusions.

    Want more information and tips on adopting this powerful technique? What Are Analytical Skills and How to Strengthen Them For Success has all the information you need.

    2. Communication

    Communication is a key technique for critical thinking as it gives you access to the thoughts of people around you.

    Data can be communicated through audio and visual means and in many cases, through careful observation of body language:

    • Ask for different points of view and seek justification for the same thing. When you invest in the matter, you will be able to explore all options to reach the best solution.
    • Listening without interrupting and only asking questions or voicing concerns once the speaker is done helps you make better connections.
    • Be 100% focused on a verbal or written discussion, you can better hear/read the opinions of the people involved.
    • Paraphrase the speaker/writer’s point of view and ask for affirmation. This enables you to pay full attention and use the input to think critically.
    • In a meeting, subtle communication cues are given by the body language of fellow attendees. An imperceptible frown, a small nod, pencil tapping etc. will all give you clues to what they are really thinking, just in case their actions are not in sync with their words!
    • Active observation, where you are watching and listening intently helps you know what to make of the information that is being passed around. It gives you clues to the general opinion about the topic under discussion and opens up new possibilities.

    The information you gather through such communication will be invaluable in thinking critically to arrive at a decision that is holistic and unbiased.

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    3. Creativity

    Critical thinking is an art, and like any art form, its lifeblood is creativity. To really learn critical thinking, you need to include elements of creativity in the process!

    • Brainstorm with your team in an all-new location or work-shadow an industry expert to step out of your comfort zone. You could be surprised by the ideas that flow at a picnic or a game of billiards!
    • Gather data and tabulate it in the form of colorful, eye-catching charts, graphs and mind maps. The simple exercise makes your mind bring data together in different ways and presents them so multiple unique conclusions can be reached, giving you the flexibility to choose the best one.
    • Play brain games such as Sudoku or chess to appreciate how different factors can be manipulated to reach a preferred outcome. These games help make connections between previously disconnected nerves, giving your brain the power to find multiple pathways to answering problems.
    • In a similar vein, you can forge new neural connections by learning a new skill, a new language or even a new recipe!

    I break down creativity in my other article What is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It. If you want to be good at critical thinking, you need to adopt creativity!

    4. Open-Mindedness

    It’s easy to say you’re open minded but is your mind really open?

    To get an idea,

    • Be brutally honest about your strengths and weaknesses, and how these will impact the matter at hand.
    • Hear an opinion that conflicts with your own without forming a response before the opinion is fully voiced.
    • Acknowledge that there may be more than one approach to solving a problem and that they may all be right in some way.
    • Consider your true feelings when you will implement any required changes.
    • Disregard your long-held beliefs and assumptions and let go of habits.
    • Imagine the decision-making factors placed on weighing scales. Are they balanced?

    Open-mindedness is a powerful technique for critical thinking. New possibilities can be uncovered, helping you resolve personal and professional matters in a manner that doesn’t frustrate you or alienate the other party.

    5. Problem-Solving

    Critical thinking is heavily dependent on problem-solving. An effective critical thinker will be a problem solver with the foresight to anticipate roadblocks and negative outcomes, and the experience and presence of mind to resolve them quickly and move on.

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    One of the most effective problem-solving methodologies is the 5 Whys Analysis. Invented by Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota Motors in the 1950s, it has been used successfully by the automobile giant to get to the root cause of problems.

    The idea behind this is simple: start with the end problem and keep asking why until you get to the root cause of it.

    The general idea is that asking why 5 times from the effect is enough to get to the cause, hence the name. However, the methodology does not limit the questions to 5, and why can be asked as many times as need to peel away the layers until a satisfactory answer is reached.

    To use the 5 Whys Analysis, start off by listing the problem and writing why in front of it. The next point in the list should be answer to the first why with another why in front of it. Continue answering the question asked above followed by a why until you’ve asked the question 5 times and answered it six times. 99% of the time, the last answer will be the root cause of the problem stated in the first point.

    For example, consider the a commonly given scenario where a vehicle does not start.

    1. Vehicle will not start. Why?
    2. Battery is dead. Why?
    3. The alternator is not functioning. Why?
    4. The alternator belt has broken. Why?
    5. It was old and worn out. Why?
    6. The car is not maintained according to manufacturer’s recommendation.

    By this example, it is clearly demonstrated that 5 whys were asked to reach the root cause of the problem.

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    The 5 techniques discussed here are important for effective critical thinking. When employed regularly they will become a habit and will definitely improve your critical thinking skills so you can get better at predicting and resolving issues that concern you and your environment.

    Over the years, the 5 Whys Analysis has been adopted by millions to reach the root cause of their personal and professional problems. Industry giant Six Sigma has also incorporated the 5x Why Analysis in the Analyze phase of their DMAIC methodology.[1]

    Final Thoughts

    Is critical thinking a new-fangled notion? Not at all. Its history can be traced back to Socrates who questioned commonly held beliefs. This practice was carried forward by leading scholars and thinkers from different times such as Aristotle and Plato, Colet and Moore, Descartes, Galileo and Newton.[2]

    Today’s world is dependent on critical thinking to resolve all sorts of issues. It is now indispensable for issues ranging from personal relationships to professional jobs and those involving the global community.

    The 5 techniques discussed here are important for effective critical thinking. When employed regularly, they will become a habit and will definitely improve your critical thinking skills so you can get better at predicting and resolving issues that concern you and your environment.

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    Featured photo credit: Mariya Pampova via unsplash.com

    Reference

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