Remember the last time you multi-tasked? Are you listening to music, talking to another person or engaging in your mobile device while reading this post? Then you are multi-tasking as you read. Good for you! Or not.

We’ve become a society of multi-doer’s. In fact, it seems almost impossible to escape this lifestyle, except for those rare occasions where we’re remote and unable to access technology. But even then, we’re likely to be performing something other than just having a conversation or engaging in a specific task. But, at what cost?

Human BrainMany will say none. They can do it. It’s a breeze and they’ve done it for most of their lives. My teen kids will even say they’re better at something with “noise” in the background.

Some will say it works occasionally. But they’ll recognize that they probably don’t get the whole conversation or they’re not as efficient if they are doing something simultaneously.

Scientists will tell us at great cost. Our brains don’t work well this way. Take a look at these Discovery Channel videos about how easily our brains can be distracted. It’s fascinating!

Unfortunately, I don’t have one great, magical solution for eliminating this concept of multi-tasking or getting distracted from your life, but I do have tips to help.

Ideas to try:

1) Say no to the mobile device. Leave it behind. Especially when you go into a meeting. If it’s not there to tempt you, you won’t use it. And it sends a pretty positive message to the others in your meeting, if you’re bare (of technology).

2) Prioritize your tasks. Don’t constantly check your email; or phone (even when you hear it). Set up your tones/alerts so your critical reminders are evident and you can look. But others, can wait. Take the last five minutes of each hour or a couple of specific times a day to check. Our programmers do a good job with this. We want to allow them to dive deeply into client work, without constant interruptions.

3) Create a habit. Start with one task/conversation that you normally have distractions with. When you have success completing it singly, try another. And another. When you’ve done it well three times, reward yourself. With a single item or activity. You won’t be able to eliminate multi-tasking from your whole life, but even if you can with a few of your tasks or conversations, you’re making progress.

And if you think you have to multi-task, ask yourself the question…what’s most important right now, in this moment? If it’s checking your phone, then do that. Period. But not while driving. Enough said.