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Mind Matter

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Romans 12:2 (NLT)

I’ve noticed a trend over the past few years: we are told that our minds are delicate and to avoid overloading our brain we should focus on one project at a time. In other words, stop multitasking.

Multitasking has definitely received some bad publicity lately. We’re inundated with articles suggesting that multitasking is a lie, and that task-shifting only leads to more mistakes. Even the American Psychological Association (APA) has suggested that juggling multiple tasks undermines our efficiency.[i] Yes, it’s true that performing two functions at the very same time—such as texting and driving—can have devastating consequences. Our brains cannot act on two different directives at precisely the same time.

But focusing on different projects in the same time frame is a different story. The truth is that our brains are extremely powerful and sophisticated machines which can store memories, subconsciously scan for threats, learn new information, and keep our bodies functioning—all at the same time. A recent study concluded that our brains may be capable of 20 million calculations per second.[ii] If this is accurate but I only make one or two calculations per second, I’m only taking advantage of 0.0000001 percent of my brain’s potential!

God created the human brain with unlimited capabilities. Unlike computers, which have to analyze every possible option before making a decision, the human mind operates using intuition. This means that our brains can eliminate 99% of the options, leaving only plausible choices.

The truth is that our brains are designed to handle multiple tasks at the same time. So, what does this mean for us? We are immensely capable of juggle multiple priorities at the same time.

Unfortunately, there is a narrative in our current culture which discourages healthy habits and critical thinking. Tragically, we are encouraged to be lazy and avoid challenging ourselves for fear that we may overload our brains and screw everything up that we touch. Nonsense.

I’d like to stop for a second and acknowledge that multitasking is easier for some than for others, depending on our natural gifting. It may come natural for some but require effort for others. For example, I am a below-average athlete. Even though I worked harder at conditioning than many of my teammates, I still finished last (or close to it) in every competitive race I ever ran (ouch). The same is true with cognitive function—some are better equipped than others. Lucky for me, even though I’m lame when it comes to sports, I’m an above average thinker.

Juggling more than one task in a certain timeframe can be nerve wracking but can also be very rewarding when done properly. Managing more than one project at a time CAN be done effectively and will increase your efficiency.

God creates our minds with the capacity to be exceptional. In this age, it’s OK to challenge the notion that we have to caudle our brains so that we don’t overwhelm them. Instead, you can learn how to train your mind to work at its full potential (well, not really, but closer to its potential).

God has great things in store for those who love Him and make conscious decisions to identify and act on His good, pleasing, and perfect will. We limit our God-given potential when we refuse to work hard. I’ve heard this a long time ago and had adopted it as my mantra, “Pray as if it is all up to God but work as if it’s all up to you.”

Some may choose to focus on just one project at a time because of the emotional energy and discipline it requires to juggle multiple priorities. And this is ok, but don’t blame it on your brain.

[i] [ii]

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