In the usual flurry of information overload in our communications hub, one idea or one voice seemed to stick and that was of Manoush Zomorodi. Her weekly podcast Note to Self is all about questioning whether technology is running your life or are you running technology. Her Ted talk and Infomagical challenge is pitched to showing people how to turn boredom to brilliance. See, being more creative and efficient is something our communications team always strives for, so the team committed to taking on the Infomagical challenge for the next five days and here is what we found.
Day 1: Magical Day
Adrian: Today’s task was not to multi-task and the science behind this is interesting – the more we multi-task the more neuro chemicals our brain uses – that’s why we get hungry when we do fifteen things at once!
So today’s task is to single task, to finish one job without distractions. You can finish multiple jobs, but the object is to do one at a time. This can take time to perfect because we are our own worst enemies in the war against multi-tasking, in that we tend to distract ourselves during a task if we are used to being distracted by others.
I did one task at a time and found that — instead of having multiple unfinished emails open at the end of the day – I had a very satisfying day and plan to continue to single focus. It’s good for my brain.
Lisa: My goal is set. ‘Tune in and communicate more clearly’. After returning from a week’s holiday with time spent partly off the grid, my inbox seemed endless. Focusing on one task at time I felt like a plodder but soon became much more in control of my output. I also noticed how many squillions of self-perpetuating distractions and habits I had preventing me from reaching my goal.
Sips of water, tea breaks, annoying Facebook pop-up notifications, personal messages at the bottom of my screen, meeting invitations, mobile text messages, phone calls (OK that was urgent I admit) and the all the joys of various levels of hysteria and noise in an open plan office.
As the day progressed by the afternoon I had achieved all of my action items for the day, sorted my diary for the month ahead. I didn’t feel as mentally drained as I would have normally. Already I had a sense of being able to focus better. Even if I was a little water deprived and dehydrated by the end of it.
Rana: This seemed quite challenging as I’m so used to multi tasking in everyday life. At home, every morning and evening is a huge multi tasking frenzy. Wake up, make breakfast prepare lunchboxes, wake kids up, get dressed, back to kids still in bed, get bags ready, put kids in car, run out the door and repeat. Of course in between those things, lots of little distractions pop up and as is my nature, and as a mum, my natural instinct is to just ‘fix’ on the spot and move on – but what impact is this having and is it really more efficient? The way the morning run is, I found it very difficult to focus on one task at a time – but I did start to question how I was doing things.
At work, I did find this a little easier to do, even though it went against my natural instinct of trying to complete as many things as I could. When the email notifications came through, I resisted the habit of looking at them straight away and I focused on what I was working on. By the end of the day I felt calmer and more in control of the work flow. It felt good to complete one task thoroughly and not have to think about it once it was finished. I found that I was crossing things off my to-do list quicker than usual and my mind felt less cluttered with information.
Melissa: What a magical day it was! Not multitasking was the hardest thing to do. Especially when it comes to writing a story. If I get stuck on a sentence I usually click on another task to get the brain ideas flowing again. But I learned through the podcast that this just delays the process even more because it takes 23 minutes to get back on task. 23 minutes!
I also found that I was able to focus more. I resisted the urge to click on my phone or recheck for notifications 15 seconds rights after I already checked. Well guess what I finished that email and I persevered with that article and wow was it satisfying finishing at a time rather than going back and forth to 20 different tasks. Oh and to keep that pesky writer’s block at bay after I completed a few tasks I made sure I stood up or took a quick walk to the kitchen before refocussing on the next task.
Read more about our digital detox here: