multitasking unitasking The death of Multitasking:<br> Unitasking and focus pills lead the way.

Mul­ti­task­ing is out and Uni­task­ing is in. But can you zero in with­out your focus pills?

Technology’s promise was to give us more time to con­cen­trate on the impor­tant things in life.
Of course, it didn’t quite turn out that way (at least not yet).

With so many of us con­stantly dis­tracted by our com­put­ers, portable devices, and media bom­bard­ments, find­ing focus is a dif­fi­cult prospect in today’s world.

While you talk to your friend over lunch, you can write an SMS mes­sage, check your face­book, and all while read­ing late break­ing news from the video bill­board across the street. Your friend might feel like you’re not giv­ing them your full atten­tion, if only they weren’t doing the same thing.

Tech­nol­ogy has brought masses of infor­ma­tion, and with it, mass dis­trac­tion. For­mer Google CEO, Eric Schmidt notes that “Every two days now we cre­ate as much infor­ma­tion as we did from the dawn of civ­i­liza­tion up until 2003.” And most of this infor­ma­tion is now acces­si­ble from that lit­tle mobile device in your pocket.

So how do we deal with so much infor­ma­tion con­stantly beg­ging for our atten­tion? Mul­ti­task­ing!
Of course, it sounded great to begin with. “I can do five things at once. I’m mul­ti­task­ing.” The prob­lem is, we can’t. At least not well.

Good for com­put­ers. Bad for humans.

So what’s wrong with this rapid switch­ing back and forth if it makes us more productive?

Well, con­trary to the belief of many, ‘mul­ti­task­ing’ does not actu­ally make you more productive.

Unlike com­put­ers, humans can’t simul­ta­ne­ously process mul­ti­ple activ­i­ties that demand high lev­els of atten­tion or cog­ni­tive abil­ity. We’re not mul­ti­task­ing, we’re sim­ply switch­ing our atten­tion from one thing to another. And that switch takes time; your brain takes a while to switch back into the same gear as it was in before and find the same track it was on before.

Busi­ness coach Dave Cren­shaw has explored the phe­nom­e­non exten­sively writes, “You actu­ally take much longer to accom­plish things, make more mis­takes and increase your stress.”

Mark Hardy, SSI’s Chief Strat­egy Offi­cer says “Younger peo­ple con­sider it the norm to divide their atten­tion among mul­ti­ple media. They don’t even think of it as multi-tasking but just as their reg­u­lar way of communicating.”

Flow: The arch-nemesis of Multitasking

So, if mul­ti­task­ing leaves you feel­ing fraz­zled and unfo­cused, what is the opposite?


Flow is a state of con­scious­ness in which a per­son is fully immersed in an activ­ity and oper­at­ing at peak per­for­mance. They may feel a feel­ing of ener­gized focus, plea­sure, clar­ity, seren­ity and even timelessness.

In his TED talk about cre­ative flow, Dr. Mihály Csík­szent­mi­há­lyi describes the state as “com­pletely involved in what we are doing – focused, con­cen­trated”. He goes on to describe a com­poser in the act of writ­ing music:

When you are really involved in this com­pletely engag­ing process of cre­at­ing some­thing new – as this man does – he doesn’t have enough atten­tion left over to mon­i­tor how his body feels or his prob­lems at home. He can’t feel even that he’s hun­gry or tired, his body disappears”

This is what artists, ath­letes and musi­cians some­times refer to as being ‘in the moment’.

But with an increas­ing num­ber of dis­trac­tions, how do you achieve flow?

Bet­ter focus through chemistry

focus pills for procrastination 299x200 The death of Multitasking:<br> Unitasking and focus pills lead the way.Sure, mul­ti­task­ing is a habit you could pos­si­bly break out of with the proper resolve and cog­ni­tive train­ing, but who has the time? Plus, like reg­u­lar exer­cise or quit­ting smok­ing, not every­one always has the moti­va­tion or resolve. Some will think it much eas­ier to just take a pill.

One enter­pris­ing phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany thinks the same, and has devel­oped Show­light: focus pills — designed to give you enhanced con­cen­tra­tion and focus.

It’s impor­tant to note that this isn’t tra­di­tional med­i­cine for Atten­tion Deficit Hyper­ac­tiv­ity Dis­or­der (ADD or ADHD), although some of it’s basic com­pounds are the same. This is designed for the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion - any­one who wants to get more out of their day.

Tests show that the pills give you focus and increased abil­ity to uni­task with lit­tle known side effects other than a slight feel­ing of exhaus­tion after­ward. This exhaus­tion is attrib­uted not to the pills them­selves, but to the amount of men­tal activ­ity under­taken whilst the pills are in effect.

Some com­pa­nies have even begun pro­vid­ing Show­light pills for their employ­ees in an effort to max­i­mize their work poten­tial and daily output.

Users of the pills have reported enjoy­ing their work more once they are ‘in the zone’ and a feel­ing of sat­is­fac­tion in com­plet­ing their tasks bet­ter and faster than before.

The ques­tion is, is this one of our first steps to becom­ing super­hu­man? Are we over­rid­ing our nat­ural ten­den­cies for pro­cras­ti­na­tion? Is a state of ‘always-on’ intense focus a good or bad idea?

We want to hear your thoughts. Would you take pills to enhance your focus?
Join the dis­cus­sion below.

Photo cred­its: ryantronD Sharon Pruitt