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Technology Multitasking: Should You Do Less?

In case you don’t know the answers to those questions, I will help you out. No, you are not capable, and yes, you should do less of it.

A lot of us think we are great technology multitaskers, and we are very capable of it, but did you know that we are really not? Yep. It’s true. What we do have is the ability to switch between our technology activities fairly quickly.

While many people say multi-tasking makes them more productive, research shows otherwise. Heavy multi-taskers actually have more trouble focusing and shutting out irrelevant information, scientists say, and they experience more stress. And scientists are discovering that even after the multitasking ends, fractured thinking, and lack of focus persist.

Constant technology multitasking at some point will begin to slow you down; it affects your ability to concentrate and focus, as well as limit your ability to effectively process information, and you will notice yourself making more mistakes. The bottom line is that we’re really built to focus and concentrate on a given task, and when we force ourselves to multitask with our technology, we’re driving ourselves to perhaps be less efficient in the long run even though it sometimes feels like we’re being more efficient. In my own life, here are three things I do that force me to do less technology multitasking:

1. Turn the Power Off

Quite simply, I sometimes find that I get more done when I turn off the TV, and put my laptop and smartphone to sleep, and get out the old-fashioned tools, my journal, a pencil, and paper. I might not write as quickly by hand as I do with a keyboard, but I find that it’s a lot easier to keep my thoughts in line when my technology is off.

2. Install the Freedom App on your computer system. 

(Mac or Windows versions): Freedom is a simple tool that locks you out of all networking (Internet browsing, e-mail, etc.) for anywhere from 15 minutes to 8 hours. Once you invoke it, there’s no way to quit out of it, short of rebooting your computer system. It’s a simple program with no bells and whistles. It’s even smart enough to pause its timer if your computer goes to sleep (no getting out of your commitment to write by going out to lunch). If your heart rate shoots up when you click “OK” on it, then you know you need it.

3. Install the Time Out App on your computer system. (Break Reminder Tool).

It will gently remind you to take a break on a regular basis. Time Out has two kinds of breaks: a “Normal” break, typically for 10 minutes after 50 minutes of work, so you can move about and relax plus, a “Micro” break: a very brief pause of typically 10 seconds every 10 minutes, so you can remember not to tense up too much for long periods. You can disable either kind of break if desired, and the breaks are automatically paused when you go away from your computer, and can be reset when you come back.