The Importance of Focus

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First published in
Thriving Women In Business
By Debbie Mrazek

We are all guilty of trying to do more than one thing at a time. In our minds we are tricking ourselves into believing LADY WITH TARGETthat are being more efficient and accomplishing more. That is one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves throughout the day. When you try to multi-task you are not being nearly as efficient as you believe you are. To help you stop trying to multi-task I have put together some reasons why you need to remember the importance of focusing on one task at a time.

Tricking Yourself – While you may believe that you are multi-tasking you are actually just task-switching. When it comes to attention to detail our brains only have a limited amount to invest on each task. When you move from one task to another, you are actually wasting more time than you believe you are saving.

Takes Longer – Contrary to what we tell ourselves, when we try to multi-task we are actually spending more time on a task than we are saving. If you pay attention, you will actually notice that it is taking you twice as long to finish multiple tasks as it would if you simply focused on completing one task at a time.

Mistakes – When you switch from one task to another, you are more likely to make mistakes. It has been shown that your brain can handle two complicated tasks without much problem; but when you add more tasks into the mix it becomes overwhelming for your brain and mistakes are more likely going to happen.

Stress – When you are not focusing on only one task at a time, you experience a higher level of stress. The more tasks you are trying to focus on will cause your body to remain in a constant state of high alert. This increases the amount of stress you are feeling and doesn’t allow you to relax.

Miss Details – When you focus on more than one thing at a time, you are more likely to miss important details. This is what is referred to as “inattentional blindness” which refers to your brain noticing its surroundings, but not actually registering any of them. This can be extremely hazardous if your projects require a lot of attention to detail.

Memory Problems – It has been shown that when you try to do two things at once, you will not remember important details. Focusing on more than one task at a time puts you at a higher risk of suffering short term memory loss. It is also harder to get back on track and focus on a task after having to remember where you were or what you were doing.

Relationships Suffer – Multi-tasking can place a lot of strain on relationships. This is caused by stopping a conversation or interrupting plans to check email or voicemails. If you are trying to avoid stress and friction in your relationship keep your priorities in check.