Arrows by Juan Pablo Bravo from The Noun Project

Arrows by Juan Pablo Bravo from The Noun Project

Multitasking causes a greater decrease in IQ than smoking pot or losing a night’s sleep, found a recent study by the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London. 

We need to stop overloading our systems with simultaneous inputs (fortunately, music doesn’t count) and revert to focusing on one thing at a time. Sandra Chapman, author of Make Your Brain Smarter: Increase Your Brain’s Creativity, Energy and Focus, shares three tips for monotasking:

Give your brain some down time. You will be more productive if, several times a day, you step away from mentally challenging tasks for three to five minutes. Get some fresh air, for example, or just look out the window. Taking a break will help make room for your next inspired idea because a halt in constant thinking slows the mind’s rhythms to allow more innovative “aha” moments.

Focus deeply, without distraction. Silence your phone, turn off your email and try to perform just one task at a time. Think it’s impossible to break away? Start with 15-minute intervals and work your way up to longer time periods. Giving your full attention to the project at hand will increase accuracy, innovation and speed.

Make a to-do list. Then identify your top two priorities for the day and make sure they are accomplished above all else. Giving the most important tasks your brain’s prime time will make you feel more productive. Or, as Boone Pickens said, “When you are hunting elephants, don’t get distracted chasing rabbits.”

Our best work deserves our full attention. Besides, most people can’t effectively multitask to begin with. 

Read Chapman’s full post on why monotasking is the way to go, over at Forbes.

  • kelvin

    Hear, hear!

  • Sajib Mannan

    Great tips..

  • Jared Krauss

    I’m curious about the opening statement. Specifically the first clause: “Multitasking causes a greater decrease in IQ than smoking pot or losing a night’s sleep”. There is an implication here that smoking pot decreases your IQ. What’s more, is the article linked to also seems to, or could be interpreted as, implying that marijuana decreases one’s IQ. However, I am not aware of that being supported by science. Rather, it seems to be a question and implication playing off the pop cultural norm towards marijuana (that is outside of the demographic of our population that as actually smoked weed).

    In other words, why phrase it as: This decreases your IQ MORE THAN marijuana, without at least mentioning whether or not, or if at all, or how much, marijuana decreases the IQ.

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