We all think excessive multitasking will lighten our loads, but in reality it is damaging our brains
The best off-topic session I ever attended at an industry meeting was a brain fitness class at last year’s Site International Conference. The speaker, Neelum Aggarwal, MD, is an associate professor of neurological sciences at Rush University Medical Center. The room was packed with women in their 40s and 50s. From the nods and knowing smiles I saw as I glanced around the room, it was clear that everyone agreed with her: Women multitask too much and it’s affecting their brain health.
Aggarwal spoke of the large number of young women coming to see her because they’re concerned they have Alzheimer’s. They’re working, running their households, perhaps even caring for aging parents, and taking too little care of themselves. She showed images of what happens to the brain under this stress.
We all think excessive multitasking will lighten our loads, but in reality it is damaging our brains, she told them. More nods.
I see this phenomenon all the time among my women colleagues and friends. (Sorry, guys, but there’s a ton of data proving that women multitask more than you: According to the latest study, 48.3 hours a week, compared with 39 hours for men). Someone brings something up from a while ago, she is trying to remember a fact…Eyebrows narrow as we try to recall…Faces twist up…Eyes gaze at the wall, as we collectively try to recall… and no one can!
I used to think the phrase, “I can’t even remember what I had for breakfast” was funny—not any more.
Try becoming an investment manager of your time, says one source. If your time is valuable, ask yourself if what you’re doing is really worth the time it takes. Is it really a priority? Could you do it in less time, or not at all? The goal is not to do more faster or to be more productive but to question how you spend your time, rather than blindly running around and barely coming up for breath.
My chiropractor once asked me, “Are you just one of those people who rarely takes a breath?” What she meant was, “You’re trying to do so much, you need to consciously STOP, breathe, and make yourself aware of the moment.”
Spring is the perfect time to start asking these questions and finding your best way to take some of the stress off, whether it be through exercise, meditation, breathing, or whatever. Realize that your attendees and your staffs need that time, too. Build those activities into your programs and into your workdays.
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