Focus drives success in any discipline – music, sports, drama, academics or business. Yet we live in the age of distraction. We have e-mail, social media, text messages and YouTube all competing for our attention, not to mention the work, studying, or other commitments we are supposed to be doing.
The problem is that distraction and multitasking go against how our brains work. No matter how much we want to take the drug that Bradley Cooper uses to access 100% of his brain in the movie Limitless, the reality is that countless research studies show that our brains can only do one thing at a time.
Here’s why you can no more multitask than fly to the moon:
The nerves that make up the brain have very little stored energy. When we think, problem solve or create memories, the brain needs oxygen, glucose and nutrients to work. This “fuel” is provided by blood flow to whatever part of the brain is working on the specific task. But blood flow to the brain is limited and can only be delivered to a few small areas at once. If we activate different parts of our brain by trying to multitask, we end up shifting the blood flow between locations and never giving the brain what it needs to get a single job done properly.
Yet people try to multitask all time. And when I ask people to carve out an hour each day to focus completely on their most important work, they look back with panicked stares. But world-class performers in all disciplines make this a key part of their daily routines. And that’s how they stay in their Zones.