Brain fog is limiting people’s full potential. What is causing this problem and what are some practical steps to counter it? Read on to find out.
Is Multitasking Linked to Brain Fog?
People today are drawn to the idea of multi tasking and they have to deal with so many pressures from all aspects of their busy life. They are expected to work fast in virtual offices, book their own flights, write correspondence as soon as emails come in, while attempting to function as parents, part-time employees, and normal people who need entertainment and socialization to survive. Multitasking problems begin to surface when people think they can do more when the reality is they have already reached the limit for optimum performance. And so the result of all these is an underperforming brain.
The multitasking dilemma
Multitasking issues surface because people feel the need to do more in a very limited amount of time. Without shuffling things and doing everything all at once it would be very hard to get everything done on time. But studies have shown that when people say they are multitasking, they actually mean they are just shifting from one task to the next in high speed succession, fast enough that it creates the illusion they are doing multiple things all at the same time. This is one of the most common causes of brain fog. The brain gets overwhelmed with information, most of it hides under the cloak of urgency.
There is a deeper explanation why the brain loses focus with so much things going on. This huge volume of things-to-do sends the brain and the whole body in overdrive getting it pumped with cortisol and adrenaline, chemicals that it thinks can help to manage the influx of tasks. But these chemicals only overwhelm the brain that instead of clarity, the result is confusion. Instead of getting things done, the brain is just creating the illusion that this is the case.
Why the illusion? The brain rewards itself on every completed task through the chemical called dopamine. This “rewards” the brain for every distraction it addresses. For example, if you are working on a paper, and an email comes in or a friend calls, these distractions are acted upon by the brain. You excuse this as multitasking and you feel good doing both the paper and answering the email or talking to your friend because the completed task is rewarded by the releasing of dopamine, a feel-good natural substance produced by the body. This cycle never ends making distractions a source of bliss and pleasure. Now you know!
The smart phone sits at the core of the modern man’s addiction to multitasking. With these phones you can text, call, email, research, read news, do reservations to restaurants, assess the distance of your morning run, update your Facebook, post photos on Instagram, and the list goes on and on. The smart phone is the ultimate source of distractions.
The truth is multitasking doesn’t get more done at all. It just seems that way.
In the previous example, the paper you are working on will not be completed as soon as you want it because of the email and your friend’s call. And that sad reality is that through the day there will be more emails coming, more calls from friends, and other more distractions. Because of mobile devices there is the expectation that you will always be there to respond, that it is always convenient to just stop what you could be doing at that moment and just tex t back, reply to “urgent” emails, and so on.
Multitasking and info mania
Why is the unanswered email on your inbox creating so much distraction in your brain that you often end up yielding to the need to answer it? This condition is called info mania, the very reason behind the itch to multi task. The brain will have no choice but divide its attention to what you are doing and the unopened email. This slows the brain down a lot. It cannot function best until the need to multitask is addressed. Infomania is the uncontrollable urge to get other things done. Priority is flushed down the drain. The modern brain is wired to do more than one thing. This is also the reason why lower IQ from multitasking is true and proven. Your ability to make smart and logical decisions is undermined by the need to do many things all at once.
Emails are simply affordable. You do not have to think too much about what you write. You can easily type away and have the email received by the recipient in just a few seconds at no cost. The “free” nature of emails and its immediacy is promoting infomania. There is no need to wait for anything, and decisions are expected to be made ASAP – to subscribe or not, to be part of an online course or not, to avail the coupons or not, the list is endless.
What can be done?
How can I remember more? How can I steer clear from mindless multitasking? The answer is simpler than many people are led to believe. The secret is just to believe the idea that multi tasking is counter productive. You really cannot do more by performing multiple tasks all at once. When you subscribe to the decision not to multi-task you will have more control over your urges to be distracted, which in itself is addictive.
You just need to focus on the task you are doing at the moment. You can also make a to-do list and just not tolerate doing all of the entries all at once. For example, after you are done with the paper you can call your friend back.
You can choose to put your phone in silent mode so that you do not have to be bothered by email notifications. If you do not know there is an email in your inbox you will not be compelled to open it.
These are just practical pointers you can apply today to be more effective and efficient.
The feeling of brain fog can be an unsettling one and can lead to worries about brain health. Look after yourself and take time to complete one task at a time and do it properly. Taking care of your brain health with meditation can help too, read my article on meditation for brain fog help here.