I grew up with the concept that multitasking is a good thing.
I heard so many times that women can multitask much better than men.
I often see these memes on social media of women doing everything at the same time and being called and considered as superwomen.
But I wanted to let you know that multitasking is a myth.
If you want to follow your dreams, goals, and be a productive person, you won’t multitask; in this post, I will let you know why.
I will start by quoting Nancy K. Napier, Ph.D., a researcher and distinguished professor Emerita at Boise State University:
Research in neuroscience tells us that the brain doesn’t really do tasks simultaneously, as we thought (hoped) it might. In fact, we just switch tasks quickly. Each time we move from hearing music, to writing a text, or talking to someone, there is a stop/start process that goes on in the brain.
That start/stop/start process is rough on us. Rather than saving time, it costs time (even very small microseconds). It’s less efficient, we make more mistakes, and over time, it can sap our energy.
From the book, which is in my top of the list, One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, there is a full chapter explaining why multitasking is a lie. You can read more about it from a blog post from the authors here.
In this chapter, it talks about how people can actually do two or more things at once; what we can’t do is focus on two things at once. The author calls it the “Monkey Mind”.
To follow your dreams, you need to focus on your goals.
There is so much on your plate nowadays – being a mom, working full time, taking care of the house, plus following something extra that we could call your Dreams, there is no time to waste!
In the end, you want to live a meaningful life, so you want to be present. If that’s what you want, then you better stop multitasking.
Just think for a bit, how can you be present to your children while you are doing a bunch of chores at home, or even enjoying a movie with the family and checking on your social media?
I hear people sometimes at work, are in meetings, and checking on their emails or doing other stuff. So why are they in the meeting, if each time their name is called, they have to ask, “what is the question, please?”
I have a story I can share which comes with regret.
I used to go to every single soccer game with my son. I need to be honest, soccer is not the sport I enjoy the most, but it is my son.
Normally I looked for some parents to chat with while the game was on until my son one day scored an amazing goal, and here I was missing this important moment because I was not paying attention. It was frustrating when at the end he asked me if I saw his big goal with the light in his eyes, and I didn’t want to lie, so I said NO!
There is also another typical example of multitasking that I admit I still do, which is at work.
I always have my email inbox open, so when I have to focus more, for example, in preparing a report, I still have my email inbox open, and I still answer to some emails.
When I saw this picture in the book, it was mind-blowing!
How much time can I save doing these reports if I am only focusing on that without checking my inbox for 10 minutes?
There is another thing I normally say if you ask me how I’m doing.
I would answer something like, “I am so busy, it is crazy! I am juggling one hundred things right now.” Who says that too?
Well, I have something to share… juggling is not multitasking, juggling is an illusion.
To the casual observer, a juggler is juggling three balls at once. In reality, the balls are being independently caught and thrown in rapid succession. Catch, toss, catch, toss, catch, toss. One ball at a time.
So if you are a good juggler you would be doing this activity very fast! So you could be perceived as a good multitasker.
But think with me… how tiring would this be?
Look, I get it!
Sometimes multitasking gives this high of getting the things done! But it is more of a discipline.
There is an average of 4,000 thoughts a day in and out of our heads, it’s easy to see why we try to multitask. If a change of every 14 seconds is an invitation to change direction, then it’s rather obvious we’re continually tempted to try to do too much.
Studies have found that multitasking reduces your productivity by 40%.
So now that you understand multitasking is a myth and it is a temptation, I have 2 tips I found useful to go over this syndrome of juggling:
- Planning the day. This means blocking time for similar tasks.
- Understand your physiology and plan the times during the day you function better. An example is doing reports in the afternoon kills me. Normally it’s when my energy is at the lowest so I prefer to have meetings and talk to people, which is what energizes me the most.
Do you have any tips you want to share with us? Leave them in the comments below!