Every once in a while I start feeling smug about my perceived ability to multitask. That’s when I’m usually snatched back to reality with an overflowing sink, a project that’s gone out to a client with a typo or a mistake, or – my favorite – a saucepan of burnt beans (ah, the aroma!).
In fact, we’ve known for some time that humans, unlike computers, can’t multitask. We can only switch from one thing to another after the necessary time required to change gears. We just aren’t built for multitasking. Multitasking makes us less efficient, more agitated and, well, just plain nutso!
So, when I’m mopping up the mess, apologizing to a client or fumigating the house, I resolve for the 40-11th time that I will not multitask. My resolve doesn’t last all that long, so I did some poking around to see how others eliminate this awful urge. (Whoops! Just let me grab that phone while I’m typing.)
Here are some suggestions:
- Reduce distractions. If you’re making dinner, turn off the TV. If you’re writing a blog post, don’t talk on the phone. Well, you get the drift.
- Breathe deeply and just stop doing those extraneous tasks. I’m all for the breathing deeply part. I’m gonna have to work on the stopping, though.
- Concentrate on the task at hand. Really think about what you’re doing. You’ll do a better job at it, and you might even come up with an alternative method.
- Enjoy the task at hand. I’m going to try this one out today. Not sure it applies to everything. After all, how much joy can you get from cutting your toenails or cleaning the bathroom? If I have any insights, I’ll let you know. (And vice versa, please.) I guess this is really the ‘take pleasure in every moment’ concept.
- Accept that you can’t multitask effectively. Sure, there’s still this little part of me that says, “I’m different. I can do it.” Maybe I can just put that down to ‘alien’ tendencies, the “S” on my t-shirt and fear of green rock-like things.
So, here’s the audience participation part. What do you do to NOT multitask?