The Man-Brain Box Experiment Results

Well what an interesting week this has been! On Monday, I posted that I was going to conduct an experiment. The Man-Brain Box Experiment, which came about from watching a video online about how men and women’s brains function differently.

It’s been an eye-opening experiment, I will say that! In order to do it, I created my own boxes, and only allowed myself to have one box open at a time, and only focus on doing one of the things inside the box at a time.

Man-Brain Boxes

Goodness, was it difficult! Single-tasking really is not something that comes naturally to me… anymore. I do remember when I was a child that I could focus on one thing for hours and hours, whether it was reading or playing with my toys, I could focus with no problems at all. But now? Now I am the uber multi-tasker, with at least ten tabs open on my online browser at any on time (not to mention other software and applications being open at the same time) I juggle talking to several people on Facebook at a time, while talking on the phone and answering e-mails. In any one moment I could be doing three or four things at once.

So to focus on one thing until it was finished? Very, very difficult for me. But do you know what? It was so much more productive! Every day this week I have been able to cross things of my list. Things that I had actually completed and were not half-done as usual. And I even had time to occasionally open the Nothing Box! I found that when I was cooking dinner, I would just be cooking dinner, not trying to chat to people on Facebook and do three other things at the same time (definitely burnt less food this week). And overall, I have noticed that the amount of time I spend on Facebook has dramatically decreased, which is something I had been trying to do for some time, but couldn’t seem to stop myself going on there! A few weeks back, I read an article about how there was so little time to get everything done, the only way forward was to multi-task like crazy. (I cannot find the article now, and indeed, if you Google ‘multi-tasking’ all you will find is articles on why it is bad for you!) But do you know what I discovered? Multi-tasking makes time go past very quickly. And all of a sudden, it’s the end of the day, and though I’ve been busy all day, I havn’t actually achieved anything. Whereas single-tasking has the opposite effect. It slows time down. Especially when I’m focusing purely on a work project. It feels as though hours have passed, but when I look at the clock, it’s only been ten minutes. Therefore, by the end of a single-tasking, man-brain day, I can easily tick off a few things of the list.

Over all, the boxes that were opened most often, (in order, most often opened to least often opened) were –

Work Box

Social Media Box

Personal Box

Relationship Box

Nothing Box

Mission Box

Personal Box

Creativity Box

Domestic Box

So would I do it again? To be honest, I’m thinking of keeping the boxes going for another week, because even just dividing all of the things I need to do into boxes was a calming exercise. Because I didn’t have to keep all of these things in my brain all at the same time, and I certainly didn’t have to worry about what was in the Social Media Box while I had my Work Box open. Also, this system had the added benefit that I would ignore the washing up if the Domestic Box wasn’t open, and as a result, my partner has done a lot more washing up this week than normal. Result!

Another revelation this week (that was confirmed by my partner to be true) that the reason why men aren’t very good with getting cards or presents for birthdays, anniversaries or holidays, and are usually found buying things the day before or on the day itself, is because the box for that particular celebration IS NOT OPEN UNTIL THE ACTUAL DAY! What a realisation this was! I never understood why men just seemed incapable of remembering to send birthday cards or buy presents. It’s something of a relief to know that it’s not because they simply don’t care enough to plan something in advance – it’s just that their brain does not work in a way that allows them to. Also, once you have celebrated something (whether it was on the actual date or not) in the man’s brain, it’s now done. Therefore when I had my birthday party on the 18th, in my partner’s eyes, I had celebrated my birthday, it was over. So when I wanted to go out for the day on my actual birthday, the 20th, it made no sense to my partner. Which would explain why it took him a little while to get into the spirit of it.

What are your thoughts? I know that this week has allowed me to understand men a little better, and to also cut them a little slack, because the way they are is not based on selfishness or being unkind or uncaring, it is just their nature, the way their brains work. It’s also taught me not to ask my partner to do something if it’s completely unrelated to the task his is doing in that moment, because chances are, he won’t remember to do it, because he’s in a different box!

I will write another update next week, let’s see how productive I can be in the next seven days!

The Man-Brain Box Experiment

My boyfriend sent me this video on Facebook yesterday, and it made me laugh a lot. Mainly because it was SO TRUE. It’s not that we are from different planets – it’s that men and women’s brain are simply structured in completely different ways. So go watch the video, then come back (it’s 10 mins long, but so worth it, I promise).

So this morning, I’m helping my boyfriend with his latest mad creation (to be revealed soon) and we start talking about male and female brains, and he tells me all about his boxes, and how he really doesn’t get to spend enough time in his Nothing Box. The box that most women, (including myself) don’t even realise exists.

This is my interpretation of the brain structure from watching the above video:

male and female brains

Then several realisations hit me. This is why men can’t multi-task, because that would mean opening several boxes at once, and this is why women can’t help but multi-task – because everything is connected. This is why focusing on one thing at a time seems impossible to a woman, but essential to a man. If you’re a female reading this, you will know what I mean when I say that I will be in full creative flow, then I need a drink of water, so I go downstairs, and on the way I pick up the washing basket. Then I put on a load of washing, and hang up the wet washing in the kitchen by the fire. Then there’s no clean glasses, so I do the washing up, because if I’m washing one glass, I may as well wash the rest, then I clean down all the counters, and finally, I get the glass of water, and head back upstairs to my office. By now, anything from 30 to 40 minutes (sometimes more) has passed. And perhaps the creative juices have ceased flowing, perhaps it’s now time to start making dinner, or to call a relative, or a friend pops up on Facebook. Whereas when a man is in the middle of something and he needs a drink, it will take him two minutes to go to the kitchen and get one. Or, he’ll get someone else to get it for him, so he doesn’t have to stop. Or, even more likely, he will just forget to drink anything altogether because he is so focused on his task.

So what does all of this mean? I did say yesterday that I would post if I found a method of motivation that worked for me. So I have decided to do an experiment, for this week to start with, I may extend it if it works!

This is my Man-Brain Box Experiment. Now, because my own brain is a jumbled mass of wire, an internet browser with 30 tabs open, I need an external, visual representation of the boxes. So, I have created these:

Man-Brain Boxes

Notice how they’re not touching?

These tiny Really Useful Boxes are labeled with the different categories that take up my attention during my waking hours. Each box is filled with bits of paper (because according to my boyfriend, each box is divided into different sections) and on each bit of paper is an activity that comes under that category. The idea is, for the next week, I will only have one box open at a time, and I have to focus all of my attention on whichever activity I have picked out of that box. I will not have several boxes open at once.

For example, the box that is currently open is this one:

Social Media Box

So instead of trying to enforce a schedule where I have to do things at certain times, I will just limit myself to focusing on one activity at a time. Now, if another activity comes up while I am doing something else, I will just write it on a piece of paper and put it in the appropriate box, to be completed when that other box is open. It sounds like a bit of a mad experiment, but from past experience, I know that when I have focused my attention and effort on one task at a time, not only do I complete things, but time slows down and overall I achieve more. Whereas at the moment, my attention is scattered across many different activities, and I spend a lot of time feeling overwhelmed by it all. I find that when I get to the end of the day, there is very little I can cross off my to-do list because I have done a bit of everything, and not completed any one thing.

It’s not that I want to be a man, I’m quite happy being female, but I think that this experiment could possibly have two benefits – the first is that I might understand men a little better by the end of it. And the second is that I might become more productive, less stressed out, and less overwhelmed on a daily basis. I’m hoping it will also slow time down a little, as it seems to be rushing by way too quickly.

So I will post my progress, I would love to hear what you think of the experiment, and whether you would be up for trying it too. I will also try to keep note of which boxes I open the most, and I will let you know if I ever manage to get into my Nothing Box!