Really, they do. We live in a world where multitasking is the norm. Whether it be at work, at home, out to dinner with a friend, at a baseball game. With the invention of smartphones that keep us connected to everything and everyone all the time, distractions are unavoidable.
In the article, Brain, Interrupted, the idea of distractions is discussed and the “rapid toggling between tasks” might not be the best for our brains. A study has shown that when we get distracted at work, it can take as long as 25 minutes to return to the original task at hand. TWENTY FIVE minutes!
In the study conducted in this article, three groups were given a test to complete. One group was left alone, and the other two were interrupted twice. When a second test was given to the latter two, only one of the groups was interrupted. That group’s results on the test were “dismal.”
In the second part of the study, the latter two groups were told that they would be interrupted. Only one group was actually interrupted. That group still didn’t do as well as the initial group, but the results were not as extreme. The interesting part was that the group that was told they would be interrupted, but then never was, did extremely well, even better than the initial group that was not interrupted at all! Their brains were able to adapt to the idea that they might be distracted and as a result, being “on high alert” to the distraction helped them to perform better.
The idea behind this article, as it relates to DBT, comes back to the idea of mindfulness. We will get interrupted. We all have many different facets of our lives that require our attention at the same time. Distractions are inevitable. However, we can train our brains to become aware of the possibility of distractions and to these distractions by bringing our attention back to the task at hand. After time, this gets easier and our lives become much more productive.