Multi-Tasking Is Out!

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I don’t know about you, but my journaling on the frequency and success rate of multi-tasking came back with overwhelming results.

MULTI-TASKING DOES NOT WORK!

When I purposefully tried to do two things at once – cut fruit and unload the dishwasher or balance my checkbook and watch television – I failed miserably.

I noticed myself  bouncing (both mentally and physically) back and forth between tasks, which absolutely affected the speed and efficiency of what I was trying to accomplish.  But even worse,  the multi-tasking  made me feel scattered, uncertain, flustered and confused!

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What I found even more revealing was how frequently I allowed distractions to interfere with my focus.  This unintentional multi-tasking was caused by both external circumstances as well as my internal thoughts.  I felt like a speeding locomotive on route to its final destination, but I kept getting derailed.  It takes a whole lot of time and effort to get a derailed train back on the tracks and cruising at its original speed.

The biggest culprit in my multi-tasking day was technology and social media.  I was constantly tempted by the ping of a new text message, the ding of an incoming email or the ring of my phone.  Sometimes I succumbed to the temptation and engaged in the distraction by responding.  But even when I didn’t, the interruption, in and of itself, forced my mind to think about something other than what I was  originally focused on.

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If I wasn’t receiving incoming distractions, I created my own interruption by delivering distractions to others.  My thoughts would wander away from what I was doing,  and I’d suddenly find myself checking facebook, sending a friend a text or replying to my most recent emails.  Sometimes I’d catch myself in the act, and could redirect my attention back to the task at hand.  Other times, 20-30 minutes would pass (aka – wasted time) with me being ‘off-task’ and not even realizing it!

Although exposing this flaw puts me on the edge of vulnerability, my guess is that I’m not alone in my addiction to multi-tasking.

But alas, every problem has a solution….

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MULTI-TASKING must be taken out of our vocabulary……

and replaced with MONO-TASKING!!

When we deliberately focus on only one task at a time, we begin to perform like a well oiled machine.  The end result will most certainly be accomplished quicker and with more accuracy, but more important is how we feel when we become proficient at mono-tasking.

Mono-tasking offers us the opportunity to be fully and completely present in the moment, resulting in a renewed sense of living (not just surviving).   The zoom focus required to mono-task leaves us feeling empowered and accomplished.  Ultimately – this brings a calm and peacefulness to our lives.

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Interestingly, on those rare occasions when I’m successful at being fully present and focused on just one thing, I’m surprised to find that I complete the task in less time than I anticipated.  It’s as though time stands still.

But when I’m multi-tasking (scattered and unfocused), I typically run out of time before I’m finished.  Aaahhh – time is a fascinating concept – one that I will surely be addressing sometime in the future.

‘How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time!’

So how do you make significant shifts in your life?  One small change at a time.

Maybe it’s silencing your cell phone while you play with your kids, turning off your computer when you are talking on the phone, or allowing yourself to participate in social media only at the end of your work day.

Our daily circumstances may differ from one another, but I am confident that we can all benefit from taking MULTI-TASKING out of our lives and striving to be better MONO-TASKERS!

Leaving you with a little laughter, here’s a short Ted Talk by Paolo Cardini on this very topic.  He has a pretty thick accent, so listen carefully….and enjoy!

with Joy & Gratitude,

To Multi-Task Or Not?

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For much of my adult life I have been a master multi-tasker!  I have perfected the art of doing more than one thing at a time…..or at least I thought I had.

There never seems to be enough hours in the day, and my ‘to do’ list has a mind of its own.  No matter how quickly I’m crossing things off, it seems to grow longer rather than shorter.

Society has evolved such that we place more value on quantity versus quality.  How many work hours can we squeeze out of a week, juggling countless different projects at the same time?  It’s all about doing more, not necessarily completing what you are doing well.

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At times I’ve allowed my self worth to be determined by the amount I accomplish on a daily basis.  So pairing two tasks together, in an effort to accomplish more in less time,  seemed to be a logical solution.  This was intentional and purposeful multi-tasking at its best.  The only problem is that it left me feeling like a hamster on a wheel – running, running, running – but never getting anywhere.

What I’m noticing, even as I write this post, is that there are two distinct types of multi-tasking.  There is the intentional, pre-planned multi-tasking, where you set out to accomplish two ore more things at once.  But equally as detrimental, is the multi-tasking that we aren’t even aware of.  We allow ourselves to get distracted and lose focus on the task at hand.  Our thoughts and actions are redirected such that we think we are accomplishing ‘task A’ when in reality we are spending our time on ‘task B’.

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The reality is that multi-tasking is a myth!

There is a belief that multi-tasking increases one’s efficiency and productivity, but that couldn’t be any further from the truth.  Our brains are not wired to process two different tasks at the same time.  When we multi-task, we end up being scattered, unfocused, prone to mistakes and simply not present.  We aren’t actually accomplishing two things at the same time, instead we are redirecting our brains back and forth between the two tasks and that actually costs time and increases stress level.

Just for the record, a few things do lend themselves brilliantly to multi-tasking.  These tend to be activities which are purely physical, or take a set amount of time to accomplish, regardless of how well you focus.  For example, you could hold a conversation while folding laundry or ironing.  But it would be close to impossible to talk on the phone and  reply to emails at the same time.

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Do you multi-task? 

How often?  What types of tasks?  How does it make you feel?

Sometimes our interpretation of a situation is far from reality.  Have you ever kept a food journal?  For many of us, the food journal exercise reveals that the amount and quality of food we consume is very different from what we thought we were eating.

My guess is that our belief about our own personal multi-tasking is skewed as well!  But there’s only one way to know for sure, by keeping a MULTI-TASKING journal.  This can be as elaborate as a spreadsheet or as elementary as hash marks on a post it.  What’s important is that you are aware of your thoughts and actions, and you keep track of when you are multi-tasking – or at least attempting to!

I promise you this will be enlightening!

 

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By simply being aware, I’ve noticed that in the past 45 minutes I have multi-tasked MULTIPLE times!  While attempting to write this piece, I listened to music, drank coffee, texted with my husband and son, checked email twice and Facebook once.  Had I given 100% of my focus to writing, I’m pretty sure I could have completed this with less typos, fewer edits and in a shorter amount of time.

We can’t fix or change something about ourselves until we are aware of it.  Knowledge is power!

I’m starting my multi-tasking journal, and I hope you will too……and we’ll continue the ‘To Multi-Task or Not’ conversation next time.

Happy Journaling!

with Joy & Gratitude,