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Multitasking is a Hard Habit to Break and Journalling is a Hard Habit to Make!
If anyone has some tips, I'd love to hear them!
For probably my entire adult life (and maybe even for my entire life) I’ve felt like multitasking was just something we all did and that we should all do—not in some zombie-like way of toiling for our corporate masters, but in a way that was useful for ourselves. Sure, get a dozen different things every day at work but then come home and somehow have the energy to get chores done, cook dinner and interact with your family.
Even when I was a kid, I was always keeping myself busy—chores, playing with toys, shooting videos of my toys, building crap, I was always doing something after another thing. This, despite the term “multitasking,” at that time, wasn’t a word used to describe what humans did—it was used solely for computers.
Somewhere along the line the word skipped the rails and suddenly, we were the computers—or we were expected to function like them, at least. And for decades we did our best. Many of us even convinced ourselves that we’re good at it. I’m definitely one of those suckers. Just look how many Substacks I have. Too many is how many and a part of me is still convinced I can produce content for all of them. This, despite the fact that science tells us that humans are generally not at all good at multitasking.
I found an article on the topic via Google News that explains:
Multitasking causes the pre-frontal cortex (the cerebral cortex covering the front of the frontal lobe) to dedicate different sections of grey matter to each task in hand. This grey matter allows for information to be processed in the brain and consists of neuronal cell bodies and unmyelinated axons. The two sides of the pre-frontal cortex working independently of each other can put a strain on cognitive function. Studies show that the brain struggles to operate in this way, unable to effectively handle more than two complex tasks at once.
When switching from one part of the brain to the other when swapping tasks, the brain has to re-orient and re-familarise itself with the present task. This uses up vital mental energy that could be spent focusing on an important piece of work. Human brains are more suited to completing tasks in sequence as opposed to simultaneously. When doing two things at once, the quality of those tasks decreases.
TLDR: The more your brain focuses and refocuses the less efficient it is.
But it’s such an instinct with me—I’m no expert but I wonder if I suffer from an undiagnosed case of ADHD. I literally can’t remember the last time I was bored. I always find something to do, to read, to make, to play with, to troubleshoot, I am happy to skip like a rock across the water that is my task list!
Except, rationally, I know multitasking is slowing me down in the long term.
So, what am I doing about it?
I don’t know yet.
One thing I am trying to do is get into journalling so I can get all of my thoughts out onto a digital page to hopefully get a better sense of what I can do to focus on bigger chunks of the things I want to do, so I can do them all better. At least, that’s the hope.
I haven’t been able to make the journaling habit stick—not for years now. I just can’t get myself to prioritize journalling over all the other things I am trying to do every day.
That’s the real irony. I can’t prioritize the thing that well help me be better at, what is essentially, prioritizing.
So what do you do to avoid multitasking? What do you do to get yourself to journal every day? Or at least every few days?
Like Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man said in Spider-Man: No Way Home when Doctor Octopus asked him how he was, I am “Trying to do better.”