[Tech&No Stress] Stop trying to be as smart as your smartphone


Our devices are incredible, able to do so many things at once, with tons of windows open at the same time, multiple screens, tasks unfolding in the background all the time. But, let's be clear. You, human being that you are—man or woman—cannot multitask.

It’s actually easy to be less stupid, less impulsive, less dependent, and more creative and innovative. Stop multitasking.

multitasking is distracting

Biohacking efficiency

A very effective hack to be more ... effective is to radically monotask. Follow the advice of Professor Miller, who says we should remove all distractions to counter the brain’s thirst for novelty, and we should plan time for each task individually." It's truly more effective (+ 40%).

According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor of Neuroscience, Earl Miller, we should never do more than one task at the same time. In any case, it's never “at the same time,” but always one after the other. We switch back and forth, with each transition taking a few milliseconds at a cognitive cost—multitasking (more accurately called task switching) is energy-intensive, and it reduces the amount of attention you give to any one task. In addition, each time you change tasks, there is "attention residue"—the time it takes for your brain to process the information from the previous task and that encroaches on the current task.

Fractal attention

Because we all believe that the most recently received SMS is important enough to interrupt the current task, we are constantly dividing our attention. It’s cut into tiny, constantly repeating bits. It’s fractal, and not at all compatible with an optimal state of concentration and performance.

In addition, trying to multitask is stressful, like any activity where demand exceeds capacity. Your cortex can only focus on one thing at a time. Since what we ask our brain is impossible, the body responds with a good shot of adrenaline, and immediately we seem to have more energy, while in reality, the brain is getting less blood and the thinking cortex is shutting down. Hum, how useful is that?

All about multitasking

If you are not yet convinced, consider this: Multitasking...

  • ... makes you stupid: studies have measured that it lowers IQ (source: ScienceDirect.com).

  • …. makes you impulsive: “One of the first things we lose is impulse control. This rapidly spirals into a depleted state in which, after making lots of insignificant decisions, we can end up making truly bad decisions about something important.” (Daniel Levitin, neuroscientist, on multitasking) .

  • ... makes you dependent: Levitin also states that, “Multitasking creates a dopamine-addiction feedback loop, effectively rewarding the brain for losing focus and for constantly searching for external stimulation."

  • ... destroys parts of the brain: a study from the University of Sussex (UK) showed that practitioners of multiple multitasking had lower brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex. That is the part of the brain responsible for empathy and emotional control, the seat of emotional intelligence.

  • ... reduces your ability to filter: according to studies done by Stanford University, the more you multitask, the more difficult it is to avoid distractions and the less effective you become in controlling the shift from one task to another. It’s a downward spiral: information is coming in all the time, but we are able to process a maximum of forty pieces of information at a time. Our internal filters allow us to sort what is important. When we cannot do that, we slip into a permanent state of stress.

  • ... hampers creativity and innovation: according to Earl Miller (see above), innovative thinking comes from increased concentration . When you try to do several things at the same time, you usually do not go enough far to find something original because you are constantly taking two steps back before stepping forward.

  • ... is only really accessible to 2% of the population. They are known as supertaskers, and if you really think you are among them, I’d try taking a hard, honest look at your personal bullshit meter.