A Better Way
- Proactively make multitasking unnecessary. Instead of quickly switching from one thing to another, consciously divide your time based on your immediate priorities. Let others know what you are doing and why. They can learn from your example. Remember, your full attention (even for a limited time) is a powerful way to help your children live happier and healthier lives.
- Whenever possible, don’t rely on your memory. Retrieving memories on the run will divide your attention. Instead, take notes, make lists, and ask for reminders. Choose to keep the most important objects (like keys, purses, wallets, cellphones) and notes in the same place so that you won’t be distracted by wondering where they are.
- Follow routines whenever you can. Remember, things that you do so often that you don’t have to think about them require very little processing energy so you can focus on important things, like counting the days to Halloween. We’ve already shared a lot of reasons why routines are good for babies but routines can make life less stressful for you too!
- Nebel, K et al. On the neural basis of focused and divided attention. Cognitive Brain Res 2005; 5: 760-776.
- Petrac DC et al. Differential relationship of recent self-reported stress and acute anxiety with divided attention performance. Stress 2009; 12: 313-319.
- Wetherell MA and Carter K. The multitasking framework: The effects of increasing workload on acute psychobiological stress reactivity. Stress Health 2013; epub, ahead of print.