Welcome to Day 4 of the Clutter-Free Challenge.
Thank you for posting your wonderful comments yesterday. So many of them made me smile. And many touched my heart. I can tell you are women who love your family and homes. I did select a winner using a random number generator, and have announced her at the end of this post.
Since you worked hard yesterday, today you don’t have a heavy assignment. Just some interesting facts that I think will make you feel a whole lot better about not being able to get your thoughts together.
Wednesday I presented the idea of a brain dump. Well, I didn’t call it that, but that’s what it was. If you are reading this today, I trust that means you have forgiven me for making you do something painful. But it was so important! Our brains are overloaded with information and often shut down because of it. So that step in our Clutter-Free journey was necessary. We are going to get back to that list tomorrow, but I want to give you more time to work on it.
Today, I want to share another, easier, tip to help de-clutter your minds. And that is to deal with multi-tasking. If you’ve always thought multi-tasking was an efficient way to get more work done in less time, I’ve got news for you.
First, I should probably clarify. I’m not talking about simple multi-tasking like folding clothes while watching Food Network (my favorite Saturday afternoon activity). Neither of those tasks are complicated, and are wise ways to use time. The multi-tasking I’m talking about is talking on the phone while driving. Or seemingly less dangerous, checking emails frequently while trying to work on a project. When we multi-task in areas that really do require focus, we are actually diminishing our ability to concentrate in all areas. Studies are proving multi-tasking actually changes the way we think – and NOT in a good way.
Researchers are discovering that a constant mix of technology and redirecting our focus changes the wiring in the brain, making it more difficult to concentrate when we need to. Apparently, texting while surfing the Internet, while updating your status on Facebook in between tweeting your peeps is making it harder and harder to focus. Really? (insert sarcastic tone) Ask any teacher if she’s noticed a change in focus over the years.
The New York Times featured an article titled, “Growing up Digital, Wired for Distraction” by Matt Richtel. Richtel reports, “The lure of these technologies, while it affects adults too, is particularly powerful for young people. The risk, they say, is that developing brains can become more easily habituated than adult brains to constantly switching tasks — and less able to sustain attention.”
However, as all ages increase use of technology, the same thing happens to us. If you’ve worried you have an attention disorder, it might be your brain isn’t designed for multi-tasking. Actually, no one’s brain is!
There are two main problems created by multi-tasking. The first is that we really can only concentrate on ONE thing at a time. It may seem as if we are working on two things at once, but we are really shifting our focus from one thing on to another and back again. But we never fully focus with all that shifting. We bring bits and pieces of what we were working on into the new project. Talk about mental clutter! And slowly we lose the ability to deeply concentrate.
The other problem is that increased exposure to electronic stimuli keeps the brain active even when not in front of a screen, thereby decreasing the brain’s ability to rest. The constant state of stimulation isn’t healthy for anyone. Our brains need rest like our bodies need sleep.
Do you have trouble deciding what to do next? Could an inability to sustain focus be hindering your ability to bring order and balance into your life? If so, then it’s time to address this issue.
Here’s the takeaway for us today: Even though it seems like you are saving time by multi-tasking, you’re not as efficient or effective as you might think. We need a return to mono-tasking. You can retrain your mind. Turn off the TV, shut down your emails for a time, close Facebook, turn your phone on silent. Work on one thing at a time with as little distraction as possible. Over time, you will deepen your ability to focus and concentrate.
And make room for mental rest in your day. Stare out a window, or make a cup of tea and sit at your kitchen table. Imagine Jesus is sitting across from you and breathe in His rest. Sit and watch your kids play. Take a walk. Disconnect for some time each day and allow your mind to be at ease. Use this time to pray simple prayers of thanks to our gracious Heavenly Father, and allow His love to wash over you.
I hope today was an aha moment for some of you. There really are changes in our society that may seem good and helpful, but have negative side effects. Let’s go old-school for some time each day by mono-tasking and resting our brains.
Now that we can think more clearly, tomorrow we are going to take a look at our priorities and look at reducing the clutter in our schedules. Keep adding to your personal assessment to-do list but keep it handy for tomorrow. And the big tip for reining in that bad boy will be on Monday.
Grace & Peace,
Heavenly Father, thank You for creating me with such complexity. You knit me together before I was born, and designed me with such loving care. Help me to understand and accept that You made me with the need to rest. You also designed my brain to concentrate and focus. I want to honor that gift by taking care of myself. Please reveal ways I need to slow down and be more fully present in every area of my life. In Jesus name, Amen.
Using a random number generation, I’m happy to announce the winner of my book, I Used to Be So Organized. Congratulation to Susan who posted a comment at 2013/01/23 at 10:18 am.
If you want more encouragement and tips on how to bring order to your mind, schedule and home, I hope you’ll consider purchasing my book, “I Used to Be So Organized.” It’s available through Proverbs 31 Ministries, Amazon, or wherever books are sold. Thank you.