Since we have a computer metaphor going here for revamping your life, I wanted to talk a bit about thrash.
Thrashing is, by the Wikipedia definition:
“A situation where large amounts of computer resources are used to do a minimal amount of work, with the system in a continual state of resource contention.”
Computers get into this state usually because they are trying to use the same resources at the same time. Too many things are vying for the attention of one processor or memory, and the computer gets confused and starts rapidly switching between things, causing delays due to lag time.
In the end, the only solution to thrashing is to remove the demands for the resources so that the computer has a clear path of what is important.
Humans can thrash too, except we have a nicer word for it: multitasking.
The Dreaded Multitasking
Let’s set this straight before we go any further: I do not consider it multitasking when you are doing two things that do not engage the same physical requirements nor place others in danger. For instance, listening to music while walking on a treadmill is not multitasking to me (it is sometimes challenging for me, though). Putting on makeup while driving is. Cleaning up the kitchen while dinner is simmering on the stove is not multitasking, since the stove is doing the simmering while you do the cleaning. Listening to how your child’s day went while trying to read the paper is multitasking.
Multitasking is not truly possible for us humans. What we end up doing is attention splitting, or shifting rapidly from one task to another and back again. Add a few more tasks in, and what do you have? Human brain thrash.
Hey, LJ, Why Do You Dislike Multitasking So Much?
Multitasking may seem like you’re being more effective, but in the long run, you are actually taking more time and energy. And that goes against both my beliefs in simplicity and productivity.
Let’s look at it mathematically.
Let’s say you’re doing Tasks A, B, and C. Let’s say it takes your brain 5 seconds to readjust when switching to a new task.
So if you switch from A to B, that’s 5 seconds wasted. A to B to C, that’s 10. A to B to C to A to B to C is 25 seconds.
You might think that no big deal, except that the transition time between intricate tasks is way more than 5 seconds. And if you routinely spend time and concentrate, you will get far more done faster.
How To Get Rid of Brain Thrash
The best way I know to eliminate brain thrash is to stop multitasking. Focus on one thing at a time, complete it, and then move onto the next.
This is not easy, especially when we have been conditioned by alerts and beeps of all sorts of devices to distract us.
So the first step to focusing on a single task is to turn of the distractions. Turn off the phone. Turn off the texts. Sign out of Twitter and Facebook and email. The world won’t end if you’re not connected for 15 minutes. Trust me.
Now focus on the task at hand. See how quickly you can get through it.
Using A Timer
If you’re having a really tough time eliminating distraction, try using a timer. Pick a certain amount of time you will work on a task, followed by an amount of time you can do anything. I personally like to work 10 minutes, then take a two minute break, and repeat this 5 times. This gives me 50 minutes of work every hour, but I don’t feel deprived.
How is your brain thrash level? What do you do to get rid of it? Share below.
Photo by Spec-ta-cles
Articles In The Series:
- Life Reboot: Where Do You Start?
- Your Ideal Evening
- What Do I Want My Weekends To Look Like?
- What Do I Want More Of In My Life?
- What Do I Want Less Of In My Life?
- Projects, Open Loops and the RAM Dump
- LThinning Projects
- Doing A Time Audit
- Eliminating Time Wasters
- Do You Have Brain Thrash?
- How To Streamline Inputs
- How To Plan A Month
- How To Make A Weekly Plan