One of the mysteries of the office life is why workers choose to “multitask” – constantly switching back and forth on the day’s to-do list. The end result is having a lot of unfinished tasks and Facebook’s website opened all the time.
It’s a mystery mostly because little scientific research has been conducted on this subject, at least not a lot further than deciding adults have an attention span of up to 15 minutes, after which they need a break in order to concentrate again.
However, in the last few years, researchers have been trying to find an answer to why we multitask so much and how bad it affects our productivity. And apparently, scientists agree it’s really bad, after monitoring university computers with a task tracker.
The results offered them an unfiltered perspective over what students were spending their time on when they should be studying. Previous research estimated a student has a 5-minute attention span when it comes to working for school.
If that sounds like it should apply to a 5-year-old and not to a student, get this: the experiment showed that in reality, an average student can focus on a given task for no more than 31 seconds.
Even though school work takes up a lot of time, it appears there is an irresistible temptation of checking Facebook, which is a key factor that usually is also the initiator of the multitasking behavior.
Students know they shouldn’t, and they still want to see “what’s new” on Facebook every 31 seconds. Fortunately, there are a few things you can try so you can stop your brain from craving a new check on social media.
If you make it a bit more difficult for you to access Facebook – or any other distractions – it might just help you stay focused.
Researchers discovered that when we are faced with the possibility of taking up a new task in the detriment of the one we are already performing, there is a 60 percent change your brain will choose sticking with the one at hand.
Use your brain’s inherent “laziness” to your own benefit. Have a Facebook blocker installed on your browser and help yourself stay on task!
Secondly, scientists encourage us to gather some excitement about the work that needs your concentration, as the need to feel excited about something has even more power that our impulse of being lazy.
Take blogging for example: it might be difficult to be engaged in finishing a blog post, but not many people would choose to give up that creative process and go do some dishes. It might be less stressful to do the dishes, but the lack of excitement might keep you writing a few more lines.
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