Daniel Levitin understands the pitfalls of multitasking and the importance of time-management. He mixes his passion for neuroscience with his passion for music. Currently, he works as the James McGill Professor of Psychology and Behavioural Neuroscience at McGill University in Montreal, where he runs the Laboratory for Music Cognition, Perception and Expertise. He is an award-winning neuroscientist, musician, author and record producer. Levitin has published extensively in scientific journals as well as music magazines, such as Grammy and Billboard. He is also the author of three consecutive #1 bestselling books: This Is Your Brain on Music, The World in Six Songs and The Organized Mind.
Before becoming a neuroscientist, Levitin worked as a session musician, sound engineer, and record producer working with artists such as Stevie Wonder and Blue Öyster Cult. His recent musical performances include playing guitar and saxophone with Sting, Bobby McFerrin, Rosanne Cash, David Byrne, Cris Williamson, Victor Wooten, and Rodney Crowell.
Levitin has produced two videos for Big Think in which he looks at multitasking and time-management through a neuroscientist’s perspective.
In “How Multitasking Depletes Your Brain’s Resources — And How to Restore Concentration,” Levitin says multitasking is a myth.
“We think that we’re doing a whole bunch of things at once but we’re not actually because the brain doesn’t work that way,” says Levitin. “What we’re really doing is we’re paying attention to one thing for a little bit of time and then another and then another and then we come back around to the first. All that switching across tasks comes with a neurobiological cost: it depletes resources.”
Levitin says that brains do evolve to adapt; however, change is slow.
“20,000 years from now our brains may have evolved to deal with multitasking,” says Levin. “In the meantime we have to employee strategies, just a little bit more self-disciplined then we currently use to filter out unwanted or unnecessary input.”
In his other Big Think video, “How to Free Your Brain: Time-Management Tips from a Neuroscientist,” Levitin provides tips and tricks for scheduling practices, highlighting the importance of calendars and prioritizing.
“My top time-management tips are: Calendar everything,” says Levitin. “The idea is that if you don’t have to think about things like this, you’re freeing up neural resources that you can dedicate to the things you really care about.”
Levitin says prioritizing your schedule will help you be more deliberate so as to avoid over-scheduling.
“Choose what it is that are going to be your priorities and the way that I recommend is to get index cards and put one task on each card and then you can re-organize them throughout the day,” says Levitin. “With this you find that your mind doesn’t wander; you’re more efficient and productive because you really focused on that.”
Levitin’s expertise in neuroscience makes him a great speaker for topics surrounding the brain and efficiency, like multitasking and time-management. View Daniel Levitin’s full speaker profile here. Interested in booking him as a speaker for your next event? Contact us!