Multitasking is less about doing multiple things at one time than it is about rapidly switching our focus from one thing to another. Efficiency is actually lost rather than gained in multitasking. The brain becomes exhausted, burning out the exact energy it needs to focus at all. Oxygenated glucose helps the brain concentrate. Multitasking uses up oxygenated glucose quickly, making it difficult to focus on one task, let alone many. Not only does multitasking exhaust the brain, exhausts the body as a whole. Trying to focus on two challenging tasks at once will create feelings of tiredness more quickly.
Is Multitasking Bad for You?
The world of recovery is full of quips and cliches which act as little reminders to take things slow. “One day at a time”, “One thing a time” and “First things first” are popular sayings for turning the chaos of getting too ahead of oneself back into calm. Thinking too far ahead can be overwhelming and throw someone in recovery off from their main focus: recovery. It is important to stay present and live in the moment, for that is all that can truly be dealt with at the time. In the beginning, a great amount of effort is put into a simple but challenging mission. Not drinking and not using requires incredible focus when the brain, body, and spirit are crying otherwise. Recovery sometimes has to be taken one single moment at a time. As science of the brain shows, this isn’t because the recovering individual is incapable of handling too much. It could be argued that persons in recovery are practicing quite advanced brain efficiency when it comes to multitasking. They embrace singular focus as a necessary part of spiritual recovery life.
Still, focusing on different parts of recovery can feel like focusing on too much. Neuroscientists suggest focusing on different tasks in chunks of time. That is why daily schedules in treatment are broken up into different groups with breaks in between. Step work from a sponsor, homework from a therapist, or projects from group therapy should be approached in intervals of 25 minutes to 2 hours.