Take 30 seconds to answer the quiz below:
According to a recent study from Stanford’s Communication Lab, multitaskers (when compared to those who prefer to pay attention to one task at a time) are significantly better at:
a) Paying attention
b) Memorizing things
c) Successfully switching from one task to another
d) All of the above
Any guesses? If you answered a) Paying attention, you are wrong; b) Memorizing things, wrong again… ok, let me go straight to the point. This is a tricky quiz because the right answer is e) NONE of the above. Yes, you heard me correctly. All alternatives are wrong. In fact, multitasking heavily taxes your brain, straining it, not enhancing it. Although we love to love it, multitasking is not good for you.
You start writing that memo that is due by Friday and before you know it you receive a phone call, you hear the ‘ding’ sound on your email announcing that a new message has arrived (I usually salivate when I hear this sound), a push notification from Facebook informs you that a friend likes one of your recent postings (and you have to like it back, of course), you text dinner plans with friends, and you search the web for reviews on the restaurant you agree to go to. The memo (that one that is due on Friday) is an afterthought.
The solution: shielding your goals from distractions by using the This ‘r Nothing technique!
How to use the This 'r Nothing app:
1. Type the task you will accomplish during a This 'r Nothing cycle in the text box (e.g., write a letter, study for Orgo, clean house)
2. Use the timer to set the amount of time allocated for the task
3. During the allocated time, you will do this, whatever is it that you set to do, or nothing (we mean absolutely nothing, no trips to the restroom, web browsing, social media, trips to the refrigerator… nothing!)
4. After the cycle ends, you will reflect over what you have accomplished during that cycle. And then, start again!
5. If you get interrupted, distracted, or attend to other tasks, you must press the 'cancel cycle' button.
For every This 'r Nothing cycle that you successfuly complete, you will receive two marshmallows. For every cycle that you break, you will receive a burnt marshmallow.
The This 'r Nothing App is based on simple concepts derived from the latest empirical research in self-control. These concepts include:
1. Focusing on one task at a time can dramatically improve your ability to achieve
2. Shielding your goal from outside distractions increases goal achievement
3. Switching from one task to another is taxing to your brain and reduces productivity
4. Chunking activities into small bits increases productivity
5. Monitoring what you spend time on is essential when you want to regain control of your schedule
At the end of each This 'r Nothing cycle, you will be prompted to engage in a brief reflective exercise. Why is this step important? If you are successful in achieving the task during the cycle, reflecting over it will boost your confidence and sense of self-efficacy. If you are not successful, you will be able to consciously determine what didn’t work and try a different strategy.