The concept of multitasking is the act and ability to do more than one activity at a time. The reality, however, is that the human brain really isn’t equipped or intended to complete multiple tasks simultaneously. Sure, there are things done on an involuntary basis (like hearing) but what most consider multitasking is really giving less amounts of intentional attention to one thing for short amounts of time. A person who multitasks is briefly paying attention to one thing less effectively and then transitioning to the next (usually without completing the former task).
Multitasking creates low productivity and can even contribute to spending more time than necessary to complete a project. The importance to one’s life in knowing this is that it can cause burn out, procrastination, and decrease fulfillment at work and play. Recognizing that multitasking is not a thing should bring some relief to the one who is hard on themselves and thinking they should be “doing better”; which leads to the impact multitasking has on the mind and overthinking.
One must understand the physical body can serve as a reflection to what the mind is thinking. When a person is multitasking, chances are they are not only trying to keep up with what they are physically doing but they are also thinking about what they didn’t do or need to do in the future. Overthinking can be seen in two ways: thinking about way too much at once or thinking about one thing in a state of panic.
Overthinking can be seen as the mental equivalent of multitasking; where instead of physical activities, you are trying to mentally solve multiple issues at once. In addition, overthinking is also a form of worry. It is important to note that worry shows up in different ways including in the mind, in speech, and in actions/behavior. It is not only an activity of the mind (i.e. nail biting, leg shaking, and rash decision-making). With that being said, overthinking can be soothed by (1) processing one thought at a time until a conclusion is reached and/ (2) not continuing to think about a thought once a conclusion has been reached.
The time it takes to process a thought or event may vary but the key is understanding how to think. While thoughts may be involuntary, thinking isn’t. Thinking is intentional and many are unaware of this truth because of mindset. Mindset, which can be likened to a thermostat (or how your mind is set up to think) is the base level where all thoughts (let’s consider thoughts as temperatures) are processed. Thoughts will conform to what your mind is set to. If you have had the same mindset for 20 or 30 years thinking any other way (processing thoughts differently) may seem foreign. So, when it comes to overthinking, it may be a “normal” way of processing information for you and changing it comes with practice. It is laying a new mindset foundation or adjusting the temperature, if you will.
Decreasing the act of multitasking can also support in soothing overthinking; less multitasking can lead to less thinking and that’s a good thing for the mind (and the emotions). The same is true when it comes to overthinking. The more you realize the true capacity you have to really only think on one thing at a time, the more you recognize your physical capacity (which can help in slowing down physically). Simply put, you're not a machine or a robot. And this is not a moment to feel inadequate but a one to embrace your humanity and find rest in that truth.
Set aside at least 5 minutes to consider each area below:
Discovering the questions below about yourself has the ability to support you in not overthinking.
Do you find yourself still thinking about issues that you have already made a decision on?
Do you find yourself worrying versus being open to finding the solution to an issue?
Do you find yourself second guessing your decision once it's made?
Be sure to journal your experience.
Discovering the questions below about yourself has the ability to support you in understanding why you may multitask which can lead to a more effective (and enjoyable) way of working.
Do you feel inadequate when going at a slower pace or doing less activity?
Do you feel as if you need to "catch up" to peers and feel pressure to multitask?
Are you willing to slow down to complete tasks with clarity and quality?
Be sure to journal your experience.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.