The Health Benefits of Single Tasking

clean-house

When it comes to checking things off our list, the first thing we consider is multi-tasking. For me, it goes something like this: “I will fold laundry, talk to my mom on the phone, and watch the most recent episode of my favorite show.” This plan typically results in three towels being folded, my mom and I going off on an hour-long tangent, and the show’s credits rolling after watching no more than 30 seconds of the TV program. The truth is, multi-tasking isn’t doing us any favors—it’s actually slowing us down.

So, to help you utilize your time and energy better, let’s chat and chew about reasons why you should start focusing on single tasking instead.

  • You’re not really multi-tasking. According to Guy Winch, Ph.D., author of Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries, “When it comes to attention and productivity, our brains have a finite amount,” he says. “It’s like a pie chart, and whatever we’re working on is going to take up the majority of that pie. There’s not a lot left over for other things, with the exception of automatic behaviors like walking or chewing gum.” When you switch back and forth between several tasks, your attention is spent on the act of switching gears, Winch says. You’re unable to “get in the zone”, so you end up wasting more time and productivity by not focusing on one thing at a time.
  • You’re not saving time. Multi-tasking has always been seen as a time saver. The reality is, it will likely take longer to finish two tasks that you jump back-and-forth between than it would to complete each one individually. Winch suggests doing things in batches to save the most time. “Pay your bills all at once, then send your emails all at once,” he says. By separating out each project, you will be in the right mindset and can easily get into a groove to finish more quickly.
  • Multi-tasking leads to mistakes. The American Psychological Association shows that switching between activities can result in a 40% loss in productivity. Furthermore, tasks that require more critical thinking than others often generate errors. By constantly changing activities, we overload the brain and become less efficient at whatever it is we are working on.
  • It causes more stress. Sandra Bond Chapman, Ph.D., founder and chief director of the Center for BrainHealthand the Dee Wyly Distinguished University Professor at the University of Texas at Dallas reports, “Chronic multi-taskers have increased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which can damage the memory region of the brain.” (More) Other research shows that the effects of stress linger even after the task is complete, which can cause “fractured thinking and lack of focus.”
  • Missing in action. Imagine walking down the street while talking on your cellphone and on the next block there’s a clown juggling while riding a unicycle. Despite the fact that you are aware of your surroundings, you brain doesn’t register what’s happening nearby. That’s inattentional blindness in a nutshell. 
  • Relationships are affected. I would be lying if I said I never picked up my phone to check an email that came through while having an important conversation. More than likely, that either promoted the person I was speaking with to check his or her phone, which ultimately shut the communication down, or, the person became frustrated or it added unnecessary tension. Plain and simple, if you’re having an important conversation with someone, or maybe you’re just catching up on how your day went, give the other person 10 minutes of your undivided attention.

The act of single tasking is easier said than done, especially because we all think we are great at multi-tasking. Challenge yourself to at least try and complete one project at a time and see if you notice a difference. Not sure where to start? Below are some tips to help get you started. 

  • One tab at a time. Similar to how you should only focus on one task at a time, having just one tab open in your Internet browser will help you really engage with whatever you’re reading or researching. Check out this video for more! 
  • Text messages, emails, social media—oh my. I get so annoyed by the constant dings, tweets, and rings my phone makes throughout the day… I almost always have it on silent. By setting aside a certain amount of time where you completely shut your phone off (and yourself out from the world), you can truly focus on other tasks – one at a time of course.   
  • De-clutter your life. Nothing affects my ability to focus than a cluttered workspace. While trying to finish a project or an email, if I have clothes on the floor or my desk is covered, I will immediately begin cleaning or organizing. Before I know it, an hour or two has passed. Keep yourself free from distraction by setting up a filing system for paperwork, putting clothes away rather than tossing them on the bed, or working in a different space until you have time to tidy up.
  • Make a single task to do list. Start with your top priority—something that likely has a hard deadline—and work your way down the list. Get specific and make sure to factor in those “bulk tasks.” We all know emails and phone calls will come in throughout the day, but if you have the ability to set aside time to answer them all at once, do it. More importantly, stick to the list. Don’t do laundry in the middle of making dinner, or read a book while watching TV. Instead of before, when only half a task would be completed, you’ll probably start to notice that things actually get done throughout the day. 

Concentrating on one task may seem impossible at times, but it’s worth at least trying. Start slow by designating one day a week to single tasking. Overtime, if you notice positive results, continue adding more days until you have mastered the practice. Have your own tips on how to become a pro at single tasking? Leave a comment below!             

Get Organized Month

Although it’s not quite Spring Cleaning time, the weather is too cold for most of us to plan for outdoor activities. With that being said, why not use this time to get yourself organized? While I consider myself very organized, deep down I definitely have a small hoarding issue—it’s a problem that effects between five and 14 million Americans1! Recently, I started going through my apartment and getting rid of anything and everything I could, and I encourage you to do the same.

In recognition of Get Organized Month, let’s chat and chew about the benefits of being organized and some DIY tips to help get you started.

Some of the Facts

  • 80% of what we keep we never use.2
  • A survey conducted by Ikea reported that, on average, people spend 6 minutes looking for their KEYS in the morning.3
  • Americans spend 9 million hours each day looking for things.4
  • In an average home, getting rid of clutter eliminates 40 percent of housework.4
  • 23% of adults pay bills late and incur fees because they misplace their bills.4,5

IKEA_Storage_Infographic_04.13_v8THE BENEFITS

  • Feel less stressed. When you’re in a rush and can’t find something, your blood pressure goes up, as does your stress level. This not only affects your health, it can negatively impact your mood. Relationships can be tested if arguments arise over lost items, forgotten errands, missed appointments, and messy spaces. When you live (and work) in an organized space, everything has its place, greatly decreasing the likelihood of misplacing something.
  • Spend more time with family. When you’re not spending every spare moment cleaning or looking for something, it opens up a lot of free time. Whether it’s watching a movie, making dinner together, or playing a game, by being organized, you have the ability to devote more time to the people that matter most.
  • Regiment your medications better. Being organized does not stop at the front door; you can take these new found skills on the road as well. If you have a busy life and often forget to take your medication(s), either set an alarm or try an app like MedCoach, which sends reminders to your smartphone when it’s time to take a vitamin or prescription. You can easily stay on top of your medication(s) by using a pill-sorting container from your local pharmacy as well.
  • Exercise more often. While I sometimes use my bathtub as a second closet, others might look to their treadmill for another clothing rack. This is a big no-no because now the treadmill is less accessible. When you have to search for exercise equipment, running shoes, or a DVD, the chances of working out greatly decrease. When you can easily pack a bag to hit the gym after work, you are less likely to make excuses about why you can’t go. 
  • Have healthier eating habits. When you have snacks lying around the kitchen, or worse, a highly disorganized cabinet system, your motivation to cook (and clean) goes out the window. When you opt for quick, easy-to-grab snacks, or you eat out often, you’re filling your body with empty calories and larger portions than if you were to prepare a meal instead. Growing up, my dad used to make a meal plan for our family—between practices, piano lessons, and the general chaos three daughters can cause, it helped everyone stay on schedule and eat healthier (i.e. less fast food). 
  • Have a cleaner home. One of the major benefits being organized can have is a better living environment. When you have junk lying around, it collects dust, or worse—a study in the journal of Environmental Science & Technology found that ordinary house dust may contain arsenic, decomposing insects, pollen, human skin, fecal matter from dust mites, and even DDT. Eliminating clutter means eliminating all the above.

THE HOW

People have become very creative with how they recycle items for storage around the house. These storage and organizing ideas are ideal for hallways and small spaces, while ice cube trays can be used to store jewelry or smaller knickknacks. For more ideas, check out this list of 58 creative home organizing tips and DIY projects!

While taking on a big project like organizing your house can be daunting, no one said it had to be done in a day. Chunk out the process one room at a time—the progress will seem slow, but the reward will be worth it! Have some organizing tips of your own? Share with us below! Check out our Pinterest board with more DIY projects as well.

References:

  1. Scientific American
  2. National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO)
  3. Ikea (via the Organizing Boutique)
  4. American Demographics Society (via Simply Orderly)
  5. Harris Interactive

Benefits of the modern-day pharmacist.

Believe it or not, in the late 1990’s, a nationwide pharmacist shortage developed…

Why? New medications and drug therapies came on the scene, alternative uses for existing medications were discovered, authorized prescribers increased, and broader insurance coverage became available. It came as no surprise that advances in the pharmaceutical industry generated a high demand for pharmacists.

Since the 90’s, the number of pharmacists has grown substantially; it has also evolved into a multi-purpose position essential for the growing health care industry. As a result of the rising number of pharmacy schools, the expanding roles of pharmacy professionals, and one constant variable—an aging population—pharmacists are now the third largest health professional group in the U.S.1 …and still growing.

FUN FACT: The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that between 2010 and 2020, the total number of pharmacists in the U.S. will increase by 25%, and again by 35% by 2030.1

So, let’s chat and chew about the role of a pharmacist and their impact on the health care system.

If you are part of the 84% of adults that visits a pharmacy every year2, you know pharmacists are well past the days of solely administering medication(s). Nowadays, pharmacists are considered the most readily accessible group of health care professionals3. They help patients directly with health-related matters, as well as provide services such as vaccinations, screenings, and clinics. Pharmacists also utilize digital enhancements like electronic prescriptions, and have access to state-of-the-art technology (check out ScriptPro’s Robotic Prescription Dispensing Systems), to fill prescriptions with greater accuracy.

“We are bringing our pharmacists out from behind the counter so you can get the expertise you need to feel a little more healthy.” – Gregory Wasson, CEO of Walgreens4

Pharmacists don’t just play a key leadership role within the health care system; they have proven to be worthy within the local community as well. See below for a look at why pharmacists are vital to our health and community.

pharmacy_graphic

Pharmacists have a detailed understanding of drugs and are more than willing to provide assistance when needed. Next time you have questions about your medications, skip the Google search and call your local pharmacy. For a simple cold, avoid the co-pay and consult a pharmacist for over-the-counter remedies. Don’t worry—they’ll tell you when it’s time to call the doctor.

References:

  1. University of California, “An Era Of Growth And Change: A Closer Look At Pharmacy Education And Practice”
  2. National Pharmacy Association / Pharmacy Facts
  3. American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP)
  4. PM360 Magazine
  5. Wikipedia / Pharmacogenomics

The Importance of Hobbies

Hobby-image

Growing up I filled my days with sports, piano lessons, Barbie’s, Beanie Babies, and so much more! And I often long for those days of playing in my basement…

Not all hope is lost though! January is National Hobby Month—fitting for the first month of a new year. No matter what you have on your plate, it’s very important to make your needs a priority as well. Since the balance between business and pleasure is often blurred, it’s essential to set aside time each week for activities you truly enjoy.

So, let’s chat and chew about why you need a hobby for your every day, and long-term, health!

A Necessary Break

Personally, I love planning. I use my time much more efficiently when I know what my schedule is for the day (or week). It’s difficult to disrupt a workflow and walk away from the computer, but allowing yourself to be responsibility-free for a period of time will prevent overwhelming feelings caused by work. A new hobby will create space for you to do something you enjoy.

Social Opportunities

It’s not uncommon to network less as you age; we naturally reach a point of happiness and comfort with our circle of friends. Trying a new hobby like joining a book club or an intramural sports team allows you the opportunity to meet new people. Group hobbies have the added benefit of social support, which provides stress relief and a sense of purpose. With all hobbies, you can ease into the conversation and take the experience at your own pace.

Eliminates Stress

We all need a little distraction sometimes! Betsan Corkhill, a knitting therapist, says, “The more capacity you’re using up being totally absorbed in a task, the less capacity there is left to focus any attention on any problems.” Hobbies are a great way to relax and forget about everything else going on around you. Life will always continue forward, so make sure you’re enjoying the ride! 

Mental & Physical Benefits

Aging Home Health Care reports, “Physical activity can help prevent or maintain control in some chronic illnesses such as: heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and even some types of cancer.” Whether it’s activities like golfing, biking, swimming, or tennis, exercising can significantly improve your overall quality of life as your age. You can also improve your flexibility through hobbies like yoga, painting, and dancing, or improve memory by playing card games or doing Crossword Puzzles. The possibilities are endless—it’s up to you to make the first move!

Confidence Boost

If you decide on a hobby that’s unfamiliar or challenging, there’s an opportunity to boost morale and self-worth. By solving a problem you were stumped on, or accomplishing a project you had difficulty with, you become aware of skills you didn’t know you were capable of performing! Overcoming both small and big tasks gives you a heightened sense of pride, so keep pushing yourself a little bit with each new hobby!

Everyone remembers his or her favorite hobbies growing up—it simply can’t be forgotten! Fuel that same excitement you remember feeling as a kid and apply it towards finding a new hobby in 2015, or revisit an old one you can’t live without! Already have a favorite hobby of your own? Comment below and inspire others to try what keeps you happy and healthy!


Sources:

  1. Business Insider
  2. Aging Home Health Care

Women & Retirement [Infographic]

When it comes to saving for retirement, women have a hard time keeping up with men.  While we can’t pinpoint one specific reason for why this is, there are several arguments—women have a lower yearly earning, spend less time in the workforce, and are more likely to raise kids or care for aging parents.

Check out the infographic below that highlights six reasons for why women have a long road ahead into retirement.

Please note: The information was pulled from expert opinions and factual data—always seek a financial advisor for advice on your personal situation.

women-retirement-infographic


Infographic / Copyright © Compass Rose Benefits Group.