Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Multi-tasking Myth

Multitasking is a myth, despite the fact that I take pride in being an efficient multi-tasker. The truth is, however, that the more I try to juggle at one given moment, the less I actually accomplish. It is the fastest way to lose focus and yet, for many people, especially if we are working parents, it seems like the only way to go. Well, it isn´t. If you are cooking dinner while supervising your kids´ homework, checking your e mail and trying to watch the evening news, you will most likely end up feeling frazzled. Dinner will burn, your kids will feel like they don´t have your full attention and you won´t register what you read on e-mail or what the breaking news was. Plus, you will feel exhausted within the hour. Been there, done that, no fun!
When we try to multitask we can in fact take longer to accomplish each task we are juggling than if we devoted our focused attention on each one individually. It takes time for the brain to switch from one activity to another and that time adds up. Focused periods of work reduce stress, don’t I know!
This is not rocket-science, nor have I reinvented the wheel, but I decided to give single-tasking a try this week, and, as a freelancing single mom, I ended up being a lot more productive and curtailing stress-levels.

- I close my e-mail and facebook windows while working. I only let myself check each one of them after I´ve completed a whole task (such as writing this blog entry). Sometimes a couple of hours go by and I don´t even realize it.

- When my phone rings, if in the middle of writing, working or having dinner with my kids, I do not answer. That´s what voice mail is for.

- When I go for a run or a walk I leave my BlackBerry behind or turn it off, so I can enjoy the moment. I´ve also stopped looking at my phone throughout the day compulsively and especially at red lights.

The result: I feel a lot more relaxed and have crossed off a bunch of items from my To Do list.
Any other ideas?


  1. Love it...seems like you have a wonderful handle on this...I, too, have found ways to multi-task and single I can do a lot...when I need to, but I also know, sometimes, I just have to be present and in the moment!!!