Concentration and multitasking, can they go together?
I have been asked whether improving one’s concentration might interfere with one’s multi-tasking ability.
Concentration means doing one thing at a time or thinking on one thought, and this is the opposite of multi-tasking, where you try to do several things at the same time.
When we do several things at the same time, we are actually moving our attention quickly from one thought or object to another, and it only seems to us that we are focusing on several tasks at the same time.
- Learning to focus your mind gives you control over your mind and your attention.
- With multitasking, you move your attention swiftly from one task to another. This can lead to short attention span.
Moving your attention swiftly between tasks, from one topic to another, makes it difficult to focus for more than a short while.
Multitasking can become tiring, and could interfere with completing tasks successfully, because it does not allow us to focus on each task long and intently enough.
When we move our attention back and forth between several tasks we lose energy in this process, and sometimes, depending on the tasks we are trying to carry out, we might feel exhausted.
To understand this word better we need to define it.
Multitasking means doing several things at the same time, such as cooking while watching TV, doing homework while listening to music and texting, etc.
Cambridge dictionary multitasking definition – “The ability to do several different jobs at the same time.”
Merriam Webster dictionary multitasking definition – “The performance of multiple tasks at one time.”
Collins dictionary defines this word as – “a situation in which a computer or person does more than one thing at the same time.”
Wikepedia says – “multitasking is the ability to perform more than one task or activity at the same time, such as speaking on the phone while driving a car.”
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“Multitasking can result in time wasted due to human context switching and becoming prone to errors due to insufficient attention.”
This behavior, of doing several things at the same time, divides your attention and does not allow you to focus completely on any of the tasks. This can lead to inefficiency and doing mistakes, due to lack of enough attention.
The Importance of Concentration
Developing a certain degree of concentration ability, will enable you to fix your mind for longer periods exclusively on one thought or activity, and therefore, you will be able to study, understand and accomplish everything better and more efficiently.
With a better concentration ability, it will be easier for you to focus your mind on one thing, subject or task, and not allow it to wander away. This will also improve your ability to handle any task that you need to carry out.
Concentration allows you to focus your attention on one thing at a time, and holding it there in accordance with your will. The stronger your concentration is the more time you can hold your attention fixed on one thought or activity.
With a focused mind you get better results and avoid errors in everything you do.
With multitasking, you divide your attention, and move your focus from one thing to another, and therefore, lose energy and time, and might do mistakes and errors because you are not attentive enough.
By learning to focus your attention, you learn to keep it in one place, as opposed to multitasking, where you move it swiftly, from one task to another.
Learning to keep your attention on one thing, which is concentration, would enable you to disregard and reject unwanted thoughts, and this means greater inner peace and tranquility.
With greater inner peace, you attain greater control of your mind and your thoughts, and it becomes easier to clear your mind from irrelevant thoughts when you need to focus.
Don’t be afraid that improving your concentration would make your mind rigid and inflexible and life boring. On the contrary, it will strengthen and make sharper all your five senses, enhance your intuition, make your mind more peaceful, and would help you in many ways.
Just think, when do you accomplish more, when you focus your full attention on a single task, or when you watch TV, read mail, chat with friends on the phone or text them, all at the same time?
Which task takes less time and effort to accomplish, one that you fix your attention on, or one where you try to carry out with several other tasks at the same time?
This should be obvious. So what do you choose, concentration or multitasking?
Don’t get me wrong. I am not against multitasking. Sometimes, in certain situations it can be useful, especially when you are in a hurry and pressed in time.
However, in most cases, when focusing on one task at a time, until you finish it, you accomplish more, better and more efficiently.
“Multitasking is like constantly pulling up a plant. This kind of constant shifting of your attention means that new ideas and concepts have no chance to take root and flourish.”
– Barbara Oakley
“Most of the work on multitasking suggests that it generally makes you less efficient, not more.”
– James Surowiecki
“You can do two things at once, but you can’t focus effectively on two things at once.”
– Gary Keller