Do you pride yourself on being good at multitasking? We’d like to think that in our fast-paced world we can easily juggle doing more than one thing at once. But in reality our brains aren’t necessarily equipped to effectively multitask. We either end up with two or more tasks completed in mediocrity. Or, we simply fail to achieve what we wanted to do in the first place. Instead, we should actually focus more on “unitasking” and mindfulness.
A new book by author Maria Konnikova explores the science behind the Holmesian method of thought, which includes strategies for taking on and excelling in one task as opposed to multiple ones, as well as to observe and not just see. In “Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes” she argues that seeing and thinking like the famous English detective can help people optimize their brains, which creates mindfulness instead of mindlessness, and engagement instead of disengagement.
Konnikova, a doctoral candidate in Psychology at Columbia University, is a regular contributor to Scientific American in a blog titled “Literally Psyched.” She recently appeared at the RSA to talk about her new book and to offer tips on how to optimize not only our existence, but our broader contributions to our friends, colleagues, and society.