The word ‘multitask’ is actually a computer term invented by IBM in 1965, showcasing how a computer chip can handle multiple tasks at the same time.
According to psychiatrist Edward Hallowell, multitasking is a mythical construct of the mind, where we mistakenly believe we can effectively perform more than one task at the same time.
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We all have limited time and unlimited things to do, and we try to juggle between work, personal projects, self-care and our social life. As we try to focus on what matters the most, we get in the web of complexities that come from managing a lot of important and competing tasks.
One has to find a balance between optimizing one’s own output while enabling our peers and collaborators to move forward.
Mindful context switching is a scientific way to carry on with your daily tasks in the most efficient manner while not being unresponsive to other matters that need your attention and input.
Means being consciously present in what you’re doing, while you’re doing it, as well as managing your mental and emotional state.
If you’re writing a report, mindfulness requires you to give that your full attention.
In The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains , Nicholas Carr explains how our brain, through neuroplasticity, adapts in response to changes in our environment, like technology innovations, which means we gain and lose certain skills. Social media, email, and team communications tools stimulate our very human desire to want to connect with people and access novel information but diminish the focus and processing skills that our literacy culture of books and newspapers built up. As Carr writes :
“[E]ach interruption brings us a valuable piece of information… And so we ask the Internet to keep interrupting us, in ever more and different ways. We willingly accept the loss of concentration and focus, the division of our attention and the fragmentation of our thoughts, in return for the wealth of compelling or at least diverting information we receive.”