I hate to break it to you, but you can’t multitask. You might think you can, but here is the reality: multitasking really means doing multiple things badly.
Just think about it. Think about all the times you were chatting on the phone making dinner and noticed a key ingredient sitting on the counter after the meal was in the oven.
Focus and attention are central to consciousness. Without them, everything is affected. A failure to focus means more trouble with memory and executive function. So, if you want to work on building a stronger memory and keeping focus intact, find things to focus on.
The ability to focus naturally declines with age. But you can help yourself by finding ways to improve focus now and developing routines that last into the future. That means taking time to form routines and executing them with attention to detail, each day.
Building better focus isn’t necessarily about brain games. It’s about paying attention to the tasks you perform each day without distraction or an attempt at multitasking.
Washing the dishes can be a great way to focus. Because you’re using your hands, you literally cannot hold a screen or a phone. You can use the time to focus on what you’re doing, make sure the dishes are clean, and truly zero-in your attention on the task at hand.
Cooking or baking are other options. Focusing on a recipe, ingredients, and the appearance of a dish can all keep you occupied on one task and really limit your ability to do anything else.
The secret here, really, is to commit to doing one thing. It’s being strong enough to not answer the phone or chatting with others when you’re doing these things—immerse yourself in the experience.
It is also important to make these focus-building tasks routine. When they are things you do every day—and sometimes multiple times per day—you’re giving your brain more practice with focus, which may ultimately help improve and preserve memory.