Why being bad at multitasking may be a very good thing
Are you good at multitasking? If you say, “Yes!” you’re not alone. I’ve often said I’m very good at it. Many of my friends tell me they are, too, and they do so with a great deal of pride.
This blog is about why we’re dead wrong.
It’s also about why being bad at multitasking may be a very, good thing.
I completely understand multitasking. When my husband once told a colleague what I do for a living (full-time job, run my own business, head up a non-profit foundation, and volunteer extensively), his friend remarked, “Oh, so you’re telling me he really hasn’t figured out what he wants to be when he grows up.”
One of my heroes, Marie Forleo (marieforleo.com) describes herself as a “multi-passioned entrepreneur.” I can relate. Like me, Forleo has followed a number of passions and paths to get to the level of success she enjoys today. The trick, however, is that when we multi-passioned entrepreneurs are working on one of our areas of interest we are working ONLY in that area.
That’s the key to being involved in many activities and interests: We must be focused on only one thing at a time. We must practice mindfulness.
Forleo explains that the act of multitasking is a conflict between having a single versus a split/multiple-focus. “A split- or multiple-focus approach will slow things down – it’s obvious, but we don’t always admit it!” she teaches.
Being a consummate multitasker for years I immediately objected when I heard her say this in an interview. But, given that she has a proven track record in success I decided to try it out for myself.
For about a week I refused to attempt doing two-, three- or more things at once. To help with this, each night before bed I created a list of accomplishments for the next day, categorizing them by level of importance.
The next day I followed the list to the letter. Plugging in space for unforeseen events or circumstances helps with this. I checked and responded to email and social media once in the morning and once in the afternoon (unless a list-related action required posting). I took time to make food for myself and/or my family; no reading, use of mobile devices or TV watching during eating. I even stopped making or taking phone calls while driving, even though I have a hands-free Bluetooth system in my car.
Boy did all that slow me down! But here’s the kicker:
I got more done.
My lifelong work has been to teach others how to have a life worth living through the use of vision and mission statements. There are many points to my method in doing that, but the two most important are focus and intention. Letting go of multitasking – which I’ve also called “doing many things poorly and getting little accomplished” – allows me to re-focus my intention.
The results over the past few months have been stunning. I’m happier, more content, definitely more productive, and my blood pressure is lower.
If you’re used to multitasking and feel you’re only successful if you’re exhausted at the end of the day from completing a list, give the information in this blog some thought. What are you willing to let go of so the project or direction you want to see manifest can get there more rapidly?
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In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
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