Thought for the Week: Take a break from multitasking

The current disruptions to how we work can make it tempting to juggle multiple tasks at once, while work and home life blend ever closer together. But there's a trade-off to constant screen time and trying to do too much, writes Recipes for Wellbeing's Greta Rossi. This week, pause for a moment and give your brain a breather.

The current pandemic has disrupted the way social impact leaders work, collaborate, and bring about positive change in society. Physical distancing and lockdown measures have isolated you from your team and beneficiaries, making it more difficult to keep your organisation afloat. If you are privileged enough to have access to a stable and reliable Internet connection and digital devices, you might have been able to adapt quickly and manage your team remotely while working on new offers for your beneficiaries.

But your overdependence and overreliance on digital technologies comes at a price. In addition to worrying about the implications of Covid-19 on your cash flow and impact, have you wondered how it affects your (and your team’s) mental wellbeing? What happens to your brain when it is bombarded by constant notifications? What are the consequences on your (and your team’s) emotional wellbeing when the screen is all you have to interact with others and process your grief?



Other challenges include, for instance, the struggle of not having a private space to work from home. All your boundaries collapse while work tasks and home chores keep piling up. And before you realise it, you have stopped all your good intentions and healthy routines. And some traps are so subtle that they seem strategic at first. Take this post, for instance. You might be reading this while chatting with a friend or cooking your meal. You might be convinced that you can read my words intently while doing other things at the same time. Except, of course, that you can’t. Or more precisely: you can accomplish all these tasks, sure, but you can’t devote 100% of your attention to each of them.

Your focus is scattered around and the result is that you waste precious time and energy

As a recent Harvard Business Review article points out, we’ve all fallen into the trap of thinking that we “can use the opportunity to do more in less time, but research shows that trying to do multiple things at once cuts into performance.” Your focus is scattered around and the result is that you waste precious time and energy. The same article reports that switching between tasks takes up an enormous amount of energy in your brain and can cost you up to 40% of your productivity. So, if you are multitasking right now, I invite you to pause for a moment and give your brain a mindful breather (from technology, and from Covid-19).

If you don’t know where to start, check out our recipe “the gratitude alarm”. It is a simple but powerful practice to nurture the habit of gratefulness and mindfulness that you can do alone or with your family, friends, colleagues… and children as well!

For more tools to help you and your team cope through this pandemic, read Recipes for Wellbeing's blog post on wellbeing in the time of Covid-19.

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