Contrary to popular belief, neither female nor male brains can perform complex multitasking. Instead, the brain switches its focus from one activity to another, involving around 0.2 seconds between the activities where it is focusing on neither.
During this transition phase, the brain releases a small amount of dopamine, which is part of the reward system of the brain. This can often be the reason we find starting new tasks, new projects, or distracting procrastinations so much more appealing than focusing on a single task to completion.
Unfortunately, this dopamine hit, whilst mildly pleasurable, can distract from our longer term goals, our ability to focus, and our ability to regulate thoughts healthily. Fortunately for us, there are things we can do to help our minds think more effectively!
Understanding the nature of the mind is a good start, in this case practising exercises like mindfulness, and more formal meditation practices can increase our ability to focus and execute tasks efficiently, and even increase our productivity and creativity.*
There are dozens of practical exercises to help accomplish exactly that in our newly updated guidebook to happier thoughts – 100 Steps Happier. The perfect Christmas gift, now available on eBook.
You can also click here for our latest video: Before You Get Any Older…
*Mindfulness-based stress reduction for older adults: effects on executive function, frontal alpha asymmetry and immune function. Moynihan JA1, Chapman BP, Klorman R, Krasner MS, Duberstein PR, Brown KW, Talbot NL. 2013;68(1):34-43. DOI: 10.1159/000350949. Epub 2013 Jun 15
Initial results from a study of the effects of meditation on multitasking performance. David M. Levy － University of Washington, DOI: 10.1145/1979742.1979862
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