I am sure I won’t be alone here when I declare, I’m a serial multi-tasker. Even right this second… I’m writing to you, trying to get in bites of dinner, drink a glass of wine, catch up on The Real Housewives, download music for my iPod, chat to Chris and make a mental list of things to do at work tomorrow!
I find it almost impossible these days to simply sit on the lounge, relax and watch a movie. I feel like I need to be doing something and using my time wisely, so I’ll frequently mix this with painting my nails, reading magazines or responding to emails. Not to mention my multitasking efforts at work!
It’s exhausting – and yet the list doesn’t seem to have an end in sight. Can you relate to this too?
I don’t think it’s uncommon either. I noticed Chris cooked his chicken breast fillets in the same pot simultaneously with his eight boiled eggs yesterday – to save time and utensils apparently (“less washing up for you”, he said). I actually took a photo to show you, but on second thought it truly is a little grotesque.
Recently, I read an article about the phenomenon of multitasking (yes, I was also watching tv, waiting for my nails to dry at the time) and found the content really resonated with me. In this, Peter Bregman, author of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction and Get The Right Things Done, explained some incredible facts about the multitask epidemic… Did you know, being distracted by an incoming email while on the phone saw people experience a 10-point drop in their IQ? Apparently, that’s the equivalent of losing a night’s sleep, or twice the effect of smoking marijuana.
Peter also mentioned that we think we’re getting more done by doing several things at once, but in reality, our productivity is reduced by as much as 40%. He said we don’t actually do more than one task, we simply shift from one thing to the next, interrupt ourselves and lose time in the process. And all these years, I thought I was being ridiculously efficient…
An example of my multitasking, albeit one of the more fun versions…
Research also shows that heavy multitaskers are even worse than light multitaskers at doing many things. Wait, what?!
This made me realise, not only are people performing poorly in the task(s) at hand, but they’re also missing out on what’s happening in the world around them. I can’t even count the number of times I walk somewhere and I’m completely engrossed in my phone. I miss everything that’s going on – and now as I think about it, that’s sad.
I’ve decided to make a new resolution to live more in the moment, to try – even just for a week – to do one thing at a time. Only when I’m finished a task, will I move onto the next. I wonder if it will be liberating or daunting? Either way, it’ll be a good experiment to see whether my level of efficiency is helped or hindered.
What do you think? Place your bets in the comments!
As part of this, I also want to try some tips I found for combatting multitasking. My favorite three are…
So this is what I’ll be attempting over the next week… if you’d like to, try it with me!