The Downside of Multi-tasking
We call it multi-tasking. Women pride themselves on being able to do a million things at once.
Here’s my question. How’s it working for you?
My guess is that it’s not working that well. Something is going to be compromised.
It’s not just that we are doing several things at a time; we are also thinking a jillion things at once.
The combination of doing a ton of things and thinking a jillion things is going to land you in fog-land.
Think about it this way.
You’re sitting down at your computer and you check your email. You open up another tab and check your facebook. You click another tab and listen to a YouTube video. You open another tab and decide to buy a book on Amazon. You open another tab and book a flight on Delta. At the same time, there are viruses and spyware running in the background that you are not even aware of.
What happens to your computer if you have 12 tabs running simultaneously and countless viruses running in the background?
You can imagine. There is no more space or energy. Your computer starts to slow down. You try to open your email and the little spinning circle keeps going and going and your email never downloads.
Your computer is not running at peak efficiency.
There is a point to all of this.
Your mind works this way. If you have 12 tabs running with viruses and spyware running in the background you will be living in a fog.
You find yourself staring into the refrigerator for five minutes wondering what you are doing there.
You walk around for fifteen minutes looking for your keys while your keys are in your hand.
You go to the store to buy milk and come home with 2 bags of groceries and no milk.
You’ll have no empty space in your brain. Your energy will be drained which results in you not living well and not living your life efficiently.
How to live most efficiently
1. You need to prioritize.
Ask yourself, “What is the most important thing for me to focus on right now?” Then do the one thing.
2. Have one tab open at a time.
It’s so hard to just do the one thing. This is because there are a million things going on. You are being pulled by your family and your to-do list constantly. So it’s tempting to move from one thing to another and keep opening up new projects. And then super mom tries to do all of them at the same time.
However, the current research has shown that you really cannot multi-task efficiently. You can only focus your attention on one thing at a time. So if you are doing a lot of things at once you are just splattering your attention quickly from thing to thing.
If that’s true then why can I have a meaningful conversation with a friend while I’m doing the dishes?
Good question. You can do 2 things at once if the one thing (dishes) is literally a no-brainer and you can do it in your sleep. Because dishes require no attention, you can focus your full attention on your friend.
Though your daughter would disagree with you, it’s impossible to study for a test, text your friend, listen to a YouTube video, talk on the phone, all at the same time and do it well. All those components require your full attention.
(But you know that already!)
3. Give it your full attention.
Focus your full attention on the thing you are currently working on. You have already decided that it is your priority. But watch out. Too often when you are doing the one thing, your mind is thinking about the 12 things that you are not doing. This is the fast track to overwhelm.
Do the one thing and give it your full attention. Then tell yourself you are going to do the next thing and give it your full attention. This will help you get things done and your life feels manageable again.
4. Complete your task.
I know this will sound like I don’t get out much, but I get this happy little feeling when I can X out one of the tabs on my computer.
You can have the same feeling when you cross off something from your to-do list. You know you are making progress. You finished the task and there is one more thing off your plate. You see the progress. Completion gives you a good feeling.
5. Now repeat the process.
I know this technique sounds simple but this can really be helpful in the busyness of life. Doing one thing at a time helps you live efficiently. But most importantly it will keep you from being preoccupied and harried, so you can fully present to those you love and the blessings before you.