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ENJOY A BRAIN VACATION

Larissa Chapman

Larissa Chapman

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A sense of peace and orderliness comes from doing one thing at a time. Find out how monotasking can transform your mental wellbeing in this uncertain world…

Multitasking is a way of life for many of us. Managing lots of things at once has become the norm. In fact, we’re so used to functioning in this way, we’ve become juggling geniuses in a world where it’s almost socially unacceptable to have anything less than a jam-packed diary. However, many of us have seen our social schedules take a bit of a hit in recent months what with the small matter of a global pandemic to contend with. Suddenly we’ve had to adapt to being rather un-busy. This actually could be more of a positive than you think. While we’ve all become accustomed to our busy, multitasking ways, our brains can only take in so much information at once and by overloading it you’re essentially ‘jamming’ your attention filter.

Slowing down and giving something your full focus is said to be the key to happiness, yet many of us still spend our lives rushing around, and even wearing our ‘busy-ness’ as a badge of honor.

But there is a way out of the madness and it’s called …monotasking. It’s the antithesis of multitasking and brings with it a whole host of benefits, including increased life satisfaction, lower blood pressure and even more creativity. Monotasking is where you trim down your tasks for the day and focus on one at a time, giving that your full attention for as long as it needs and it’s something you might want to consider over the coming weeks…

1. Be a carefree creative

Researchers at Bar-Ilan University, Israel found that your greatest potential and creativity is unleashed when you concentrate on just one thing and don’t overload yourself with tasks. It’s as if your brain whirs into action and reveals its flamboyant side, as it’s able to focus all its efforts on the task in hand. 

How to:  Set your inner creative being free and keep your head in the game with preparation, preparation, preparation. Whatever you want to achieve, whatever project you’ve been meaning to finish… do it. Make sure you have everything you need to complete said task, remove your phone from reach and tell the family that’s what you’ll be doing for the next few hours and don’t want to be disturbed. Removing the distractions helps you to focus. Popping on your favourite music can help, too. Research from Stanford University School of Medicine showed that music actually engages areas of the brain that assist with paying attention, helping you focus on the task in hand. 

2. Demand higher standards

Being a busy bee can cloud your judgment and overload your brain, meaning a problem or task can take longer to process and figure out. A Stanford University study found that “high-tech jugglers” who frequently multitask on multimedia platforms are forever getting distracted by irrelevant information, making it impossible to complete tasks or complete them well.  While we’re not suggesting you do away with your goals and aims in life, paring back your daily list of tasks and being more focused will lead to better quality outcomes in the long-run.

How to: One way to improve your efficiency and the quality of what you do is to go against the grain. Busy, multitasking people often have a ‘to-do’ list (or five) so they can tick things off as they go along. Why not turn this concept on its head and opt for a ‘not to-do’ list? Write down the tasks you’re not going to be distracted by. This could be anything from a physical project, to an issue you don’t want to think about. It helps you focus on the things that matter and the task in hand. If you have to, make a little note of when you will make time for the other things on your list to ensure they don’t creep into today.

3. Cruise happy in the slow lane

Finally, and most importantly of all, as well as increased creativity, efficiency and quality, one of the most fundamental benefits of slowing down and taking things one task at a time is greater happiness. Guarding your most precious commodities – time and attention – and saving them for the things that really matter will improve not only your health and happiness but that of those around you too, because you’ll be so much more chilled out. Now that sounds appealing, doesn’t it?

How to: The best way to achieve this is by ‘living at half throttle’, which essentially means taking your foot off the gas – not completely. but halfway at least. To do this you have to adopt a more mindful mindset. For example, when eating your lunch, don’t carry on working as you might usually do – instead, focus on the different flavors and textures of what you’re eating, and remember to chew slowly. When it comes to your beauty regime, take time to lay out your products and follow the steps carefully; don’t rush through them or start plucking your eyebrows or squeezing zits halfway through cleansing. Enjoy breathing in the different scents and feeling the different textures glide over your skin (incidentally, if you want to perfect your routine, check out our “Skincare Steps You Don’t Want To Skip” feature). 

Of course, multitasking certainly has its benefits and its place in life, but adopting the monotasking mantra whenever you can lets you appreciate life’s little victories and makes the big ones even sweeter… plus it’s great for your wellbeing!

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