According to a study by the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London, it might be time to cut out the multitasking, as it can reduce your IQ by 10 points. To the average person, that’s a 10-percent drop in brain power. The study did have some good news for women, whose IQs did not drop as much as their male counterparts’, but still enough to make multitasking less than worthwhile for complex tasks. For many of us, multitasking has become a source of pride. So how do we get ourselves to change the way we think about multitasking?
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A Better Way
What hasn’t changed and probably won’t any time soon is the pressure we all feel to get more done in less time. Whether in our personal lives or at work, there never seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done. The key to simulating the effects of multitasking without sacrificing intellectual horsepower is to get organized. By simply making a list and prioritizing tasks, we can save time and eliminate the need to consider what to do next.
Working from an ordered and organized list also provides the opportunity to quickly identify small tasks that can be started and completed when time is short. Being able to quickly isolate and act on tasks based on available time allows you to productively use more minutes of each day by completing more tasks in the time allotted.
Birds of a Feather
The benefits of multitasking can be achieved by grouping like things together. Act like a carpenter who measures for all his needs and makes one trip to the lumber yard for material rather than going back and forth multiple times. In an office setting, that can mean blocking out a period of time to make multiple phone calls. If your calls are going to include long hold times, grouping other quick tasks together with them will allow you to truly multitask effectively.
In terms of improving your brain function and staying focused, taking frequent short breaks is far better than taking fewer long breaks. Taking a couple minutes to just recoup every half hour or so gives your brain a chance to reset and recharge, enabling you to work at a higher capacity than if you plowed straight through. It’s also important to use your frequent breaks to stay hydrated and fed, since being thirsty or hungry will further impair your ability to function at your best.
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