I felt I sounded like a child to my therapist, complaining that I want things done, just don’t want to do them. She seemed as she understood and she shared why—too much going on and not enough resources. Not a surprise, huh? She provided me this article which gives a better understanding what goes on from the brain’s perspective.
These two quotes set the stage:
“Executive function is a set of mental skills that include working memory, flexible thinking, and self-control.”The understood team (understood.com)
“Task switching is the technical term when your brain stops focusing and acting on one thing and switches over to do another.”ADDEPT.ORG
Every time you switch tasks, your brain
- Stops (pulls yourself away)
- Switch (move to next task)
- Start (get going on the new task)
- Focus (zeroing on new task)
And unfortunately, when we spend a lot of resources to task switching, our executive functioning has fewer resources for the other concentrating, planning, remembering, emotion management, focusing, prioritizing, and initiating that comes up throughout the rest of our day.
Below are the strategies that I’ve incorporated into my life structure (almost verbatim) so that I don’t get stuck when task switching. Make sure to read the entire article; strategies that work best for me may not be the best for you.
Strategies for Stopping: Use accountability and structure. The more accountability and structure you build into your day, the more fuel your brain will feel to stop one thing and move on to the next.
Tips for Switching: Build-in buffer time. Give yourself some time between the hard stop of one thing and the beginning of another.
Tips for Starting: Break it down. Break down that next task into its smallest component parts. Have an email to send? The first step is to find the email address, second is to draft the email, third is to edit the email, and finally hit send. When you find that first small step you give yourself the benefit of the quick dopamine hit of an early win and the push of momentum.
Strategies for Focusing: Turn off all those external distractors. Keep your brain from having to constantly resist distraction- use these tips to reduce the constant drum of focus stealing distractions in your life.
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay
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