If you’ve been struggling to choose between mindfulness and multitasking, this article will address both sides of the debate and try to find a happy medium.
Should you devote all of your time, energy, and concentration to just one task (in a mindfulness way), or is it better to multitask and try to do multiple tasks at once?
Let’s explore both mindfulness and multitasking so that you can decide which method might work best for you and the task/s at hand.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a mental state that focuses on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
Mindfulness is a practice that promotes present-moment awareness, and it’s been used for thousands of years. There has been increasing interest in mindfulness to help reduce stress and treat diseases and mental disorders in recent years. Here are the pros of mindfulness.
Mindfulness enables people to notice negative thoughts and emotions without reacting negatively. It encourages people to look at situations from all angles and determine how to change their reactions. Mindfulness is also helpful in treating existing depression.
Reduced Anxiety and Stress
Mindfulness helps you to slow down and become more resilient in the face of stress. It reduces stress hormones, like cortisol, which can interfere with sleep, weight gain, and our ability to cope with stress. Mindfulness also increases brain activity in regions associated with memory, empathy, learning, emotional regulation, and self-awareness.
Mindfulness makes it easier to handle anxiety by helping you refocus on what you can control instead of what you can’t.
For example: if you are feeling anxious about a meeting tomorrow that’s causing you to feel stressed today, then being mindful can help you focus on the present moment; notice our breathing and how it feels going in and out; notice our thoughts about the future meeting; notice all the things around you that aren’t related to this meeting (birds chirping outside, people talking in the hallway, etc.). Maybe even look at a picture.
Research shows that mindful people have a better memory than those not aware. Conservative people can remember what they learned in school better, and they are also more likely to retain their dreams than unmindful people. In addition, researchers have found that stress management is linked to improved memory.
Increased Emotional Regulation
Mindful exercises can increase your ability to regulate emotions in two ways: first, by decreasing negative emotions and increasing positive ones as you experience them, and second, by increasing your ability to choose when and how you react emotionally to situations.
A study conducted at the University of Amsterdam used brain imaging techniques to show that mindfulness meditation changes the function of specific brain areas related to emotional regulation.
This means that if you practice mindfulness meditation regularly, you will develop greater emotional self-control over time.
When you are truly present with a person-meaning you are focused on that person’s words and feelings, instead of what you want to say next, it can create an incredible bond between you and your listener.
You will be better able to listen to their thoughts and feelings, and they will feel more listened to. This connection can help strengthen any relationship you have-from romantic partners to coworker relationships.
Better Physical Health
The mental benefits may be the most obvious, but Mindfulness can also have tremendous physical gifts. Taking time each day to focus on deep breathing exercises can help calm your body when stressed or anxious, which helps reduce physical symptoms like headaches or digestive upset.
What Is Multitasking?
Multitasking is simply the practice of completing more than one task at a time. Often, multitasking means that a person is engaging in several studies simultaneously, though it can also mean that a person is dividing their attention between two or more tasks.
Multitasking is commonly used in parenthood where a parent might be looking after multiple children, having a conversation with another adult, and doing chores at the same time! Here are the pros of multitasking.
Multitasking can increase productivity in the workplace by allowing the employee to complete more tasks at once, therefore reducing the amount of time needed to complete a task. This will save money for businesses or employers who outsource their work or spend more person-hours completing the same job.
Multitasking also increases productivity by allowing employees to switch between tasks faster and more efficiently than non multitasks. They can better maintain short-term memory, allowing them to focus on each task individually with less effort.
Stress can be reduced from multitasking if tasks are done promptly, and mistakes are corrected quickly and efficiently without any delay. Many people think that multitasking causes stress, but it doesn’t have to be this way, as long as you handle each task one at a time with less stress.
When you switch back and forth between different tasks, it can help your brain encode new information in easier ways for it to remember thus improving your memory skills.
Multitasking helps increase your ability to stay focused on what’s going on around you simply because you have to be aware in order to complete multiple tasks at once.
Improves Problem-Solving Skills
When juggling your time between multiple projects, you learn to prioritize and solve problems quickly and efficiently. This also helps you develop a superior ability to identify issues before they become unmanageable.
Develops the Ability to Adapt to New Situations
When you’re used to working on multiple projects at once, it becomes easier for you to adapt to changing conditions.
You can quickly shift your focus from one project to the next depending on your priorities and the demands of each project. This skill is essential in today’s business world, where sudden changes are expected.
Either multitasking or mindfulness is a good skill for you to develop. Mindfulness will make you a calmer and more productive person, and multitasking allows you to get a lot done if you are skilled at it. So, which is better, mindfulness or multitasking?
Truthfully, it probably depends on the tasks you have set out to achieve – if it’s a deep and meaningful conversation, a well researched, thorough report, or an important book you are writing, then you might achieve your goals faster and more efficiently with mindfulness.
Mindfulness will allow you to thoroughly explore and truly engage in the topic you are working on. If, however, you have a variety of smaller, superficial tasks that need to be completed, multitasking is the way to go.
Multitasking allows you to start a project then knock over a few smaller, quicker jobs that you can easily complete while thinking about your next steps in the first project.
As mentioned previously, multitasking is also invaluable in parenting – start the dinner cooking, put a load of washing on, mop the floor and help with homework all at the same time!
It’s perfect for when it seems that there just aren’t enough hours in the day, but remember to slow down and share some meaningful, more mindful time with your children too!