I was recently reminded that my intelligence, my abilities, and my performance all go down by an uncomfortable percentage every time I convince myself that I can multitask. It is a frustrating realization that I come to every few months, but a necessary one. I was stuck in a storm of effectively getting a lot of things kind of, sort of, mostly done. This always puts me face to face with a hard truth, frequently delivered by one of my co-workers -- I am not so great (I say euphemistically) at talking, typing, figuring, or listening when I multitask. These are all qualities that I need to be brilliant at to get my job done. I can’t afford a drop in abilities in any of these areas! Which means: I have to stop convincing myself that I can multitask.
I know I’m not the only one who behaves like they think they are a genius multitasker. I actually don’t think anyone is a good multitasker! The unfortunate truth is that some of us just think we are. Take an honest look now. With no one watching. And no repercussions for admitting that your multitasking is limiting your performance. What would you say? Might multitasking be getting in the way of you producing the results you want? Additionally, is it preventing you from experiencing the peace of mind and calm you dream of having in your professional and home life?
I love this quote from M*A*S*H, spoken by Major Winchester:
“I do one thing at a time, I do it very well, and then I move on.”
I’m putting together a list of the costs we see of multitasking (see if you can add any):
- More frequent mishaps and errors.
- Less intimacy in our relationships (Who is guilty of “listening” to a loved one while looking at their phone alerts?)
- It limits your ability to learn and retain. Try reading two books at the same time switching between books every word. This is an extreme example of what happens when we try to learn and retain while multitasking.
- It creates stress (when your attention is constantly being pulled between competing tasks).
- And it trains you to attend to more than the thing in front of you. If you are endeavoring to live more in the moment, this is going to do the opposite.
What else do you notice about yourself, your effectiveness, and your peace of mind when you are multitasking?
Here is one side note I feel obliged to add to this piece: When considering your multitasking, the tasks have to distract from each other for it to be an issue. Tap into your knowledge of yourself -- and you will know the difference. I can cook and listen to a podcast. I cannot participate in a conversation while checking my email.
It is increasingly difficult to move through our world without multitasking. Which is why awareness is so critical. When we become aware that we are multitasking, and the cost of it, we have the opportunity to choose a different way.
We are not popping into your inbox today to stop you from multitasking or guilt you into berating yourself for doing too many things at once. We are here to bring attention to what you might be overlooking. Bringing attention is actually a good way to encapsulate all the work that we do. We do not have an agenda in our work, other than to help you see from more perspectives. It is our firm assertion that when you look from more perspectives, you see more possibilities and choices, and from there you can make decisions that bring about the results and experiences you want.