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Matthew B. James, Ph.D. Headshot

Think The Grass Is Greener Over There? How Multitasking Wilts Your Results And Relationships

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Do you multitask? While many people say they get so much more done in a day doing many things at once, let's take a look at how splitting your focus can impact your results, relationships and overall health and happiness.

For years I've been teaching how you can empower your conscious and subconscious mind to get the most out of life. There are many ways to impact your life. However, one of the most powerful ways to engage your body and brain is so simple: Focus on one task at a time. Then, your brain can deeply engage and your body's senses can fully experience your environment, other people and the situation at hand (literally).

Consider exercise on a treadmill. Imagine you're at the gym and a businessman is working out next to you talking on his phone. To your right, a woman is running intensely on her treadmill solely focused on her speed. What can you imagine how their bodies are doing? The man's brain and body must split its focus between talking and walking on the treadmill. The woman's brain and body has complete focus for efficient running. The woman can send oxygen to every muscle. The woman's brain can fully engage the body as it exercises, storing information for future performance and optimal function. It's likely the man's experience of the exercise will be less satisfying than the woman's. For sure their bodies will have different results. The woman's performance will most likely increase. The man's will most likely plateau.

There's an old saying: You get what you give. So, if you invest 40 percent, it should be no surprise you get only 40 percent of the result you're seeking.

My children went to the beach with me recently. I teach at the Empowerment Partnership, and my wife and I live in Hawaii, so we often go to the beach as a family. While there, I notice couples doing other things rather than spending time with each other. Phones, music headsets and food distract many people from simply being with each other. I watch my children as they play with the sand and speak to my wife as we enjoy the sun. I reflect on the complaints I've heard in my classrooms. Students I teach around the world say they are frustrated with their family members. "She doesn't spend enough time with me." Or they complain, "He doesn't listen to me." I suggest they consider that it's not always a function of time spent together or a lack of listening, but rather multitasking edging its way into the experience. What would happen if they hung up the phone? Or, what if they listened to their partners instead of watching the TV? Your body and brain could then experience a deeper connection with the other people around you. In other words, you could fully experience how green your life truly is.

So the next time you think to yourself, "The grass is greener over there," pause and ask yourself if you're actually focused on how green the pasture is right in front of you, right now. Are you listening to your family with the phone turned off? When was the last time you had a conversation with your family without the television blaring? When your coworker talks to you, are you checking your email? Focus and let your brain and body fully engage and fully experience how green your garden is and can be.

For more by Matthew B. James, Ph.D., click here.

For more on unitasking, click here.

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