While it is not uncommon to hear people tout their ability to multitask, science shows that true multitasking is impossible, and trying to do so lowers productivity. In this article, the CEO of Inner Matrix Systems, Joey Klein, examines how cultivating the ability to focus intensely on one task at a time optimizes performance.
The human brain is amazing, but it can’t focus on more than one thing at a time. Instead, it will subdivide its capabilities if called on to juggle competing demands. If you find yourself talking with a client on the phone while simultaneously replying to an email from your boss, it may seem like you’re multitasking. But, in reality, you are serial tasking and giving only a portion of your full attention to both tasks. This could result in a client that feels unimportant or a boss that is unsatisfied with your reply.
Multitasking, or as close as humans can come to it, can only be accomplished if one or more of the tasks performed is done unconsciously. This feat also requires that the functions being performed involve different brain processes. You can’t read two books at the same time, but you can walk (requires no conscious effort) and read concurrently. Because walking could at any time require your full attention to avoid hazards, it’s not a good idea unless you’re on a treadmill.
When trying to be hyper-efficient by tackling more than one task at a time, you run the risk of reducing your productivity by up to 40% and handicapping your ability to remember what you’ve done — thereby limiting your ability to learn. Attempting to multitask can be a crucial mistake for people trying to optimize their performance in any field.
Optimal performance is the result of consistent behavior over time. Distracting habits, or unconscious behaviors, can subdivide your focus. Unconscious habits are continually influencing an untrained mind. To attain peak performance, conscious routines — purposefully designed to drive productive behavior — must supplant distracting habits.
Martial arts are an excellent example of this principle. To win a world championship requires many years of developing conscious routines that support the behaviors that lead to success. To create the routines that will lead to the desired outcome, begin with the end in mind. Work backward to eliminate habits that subdivide focus on the desired results.
To become more productive, work for extended uninterrupted periods with full concentration on a single task. This deep work will allow you to do your best work. In author Gary Keller’s book, ONE Thing, Keller explains that regardless of how success is measured, the ability to dismiss distractions and concentrate on your ONE Thing is what stands between you and your goals. Inner Matrix Systems encourages people to train their minds and focus on their ONE Thing through their proprietary personal mastery training system.
While you may not be able to do more than one thing at a time, you can significantly increase your productivity by eliminating habits that distract you from focusing on the right one thing at any given moment. Developing conscious routines that allow you to be fully engaged in one task at a time will optimize your performance and help you to create the life you choose.
About Inner Matrix Systems
Inner Matrix Systems, based in Denver, is a personal mastery training system for high achievers. For more than twenty years, IMS has delivered a proprietary methodology that rewires, trains, and aligns the nervous system, emotions, and thought strategies to create real-life results. CEO, Joey Klein, and IMS have worked with more than 80,000 individuals from around the world through both live and online training programs, as well as one-on-one coaching. Clients have included: Boeing, IBM, Dell, Google, Panda Express, Coca Cola and The World Health Organization. Joey is the author of The Inner Matrix: Leveraging the Art & Science of Personal Mastery to Create Real Life Results (June 2021).