The Myth of Multitasking

GGM11 2011-05-21
Do you multi-task? Check your emails while watching TV, and talking to your friend on the phone? Try to write a report while answering a colleagues questions?

I know I do these things all the time. In the beginning I wanted to be more efficient, make the most of my time. These days however, I’m honestly not as sure. I have noticed that my attention span has gotten awfully short, so even when I try to focus on just one thing, I find it incredibly difficult. Even while watching a movie that I’d been wanting to watch, after a couple of minutes I start itching for my phone to text someone, use Twitter or play a game. Or I reach for my laptop and look at Pinterest.

It’s even worse when I’m with friends. I try very hard to leave my phone alone, when I’m with friends, but it is  a struggle. I wouldn’t even say it is a need to be connected at all times, as much as it is a need to feel “on”, and to feel productive. Instead of enjoying comfortable moments of silence with a friend, we, I, often try to fill every moment with *something*.

But at the end of the day, I don’t feel like I have accomplished a lot of things. Sure, I have done a lot. A lot of “busy-work”. But at the end of the day, how many things you’ve pinned on Pinterest or that extra tweet will not make a difference. I want to write things, do things, create things. Things that will make a difference. In my life, and in the life of other people. And that’s not through busy-work.

I feel exhausted. There are so many things I want to do, things I want to read, things I want to write and things I want to share. But I can’t do it all. I can’t be it all. Busy-work will leave you exhausted at the end of day, and already dreading the next – at least in my experience. You never quite catch up, because no matter how fast you run there’ll always be more of it.

Inhale // Exhale

So you need to step off the wheel of busy-work, and start doing the things that really matter to you.

And when it is time for a break? Take a real break. Focus on watching your movie, reading your book or hanging out with your friends. Just be there, enjoy the moment. Relax.

Also, research has shown that multitasking is a myth.

Do you multitask? What do you think about multitasking, does it make you less productive or more productive? How do you take time out to relax and focus on the work that matters to you?

4 Comments

  1. I multi-task in that I almost always have at least two things going at once, but I’m not devoting attention to all of them at once. I only focus on one at a time, but I need the background noise to focus, and sometimes I get tired of what I’m doing and switch my attention to one of the background things for awhile. It works well for me.

    Maybe it’s just because I don’t have one of the special super-phones that can do everything, but I’ve never really experienced that need to pull a phone out all the time and I don’t really understand it when other people do. I had to make a rule that my fiance isn’t allowed to get the phone out while we’re at a restaurant or are talking about something, because especially when he first got an android phone he used to do that all the time and I’d just be talking to myself. The multi-tasking isn’t really about busy work for me, and actually it’s usually not that the computer pulls me away from other things but that when I’m on a computer I like having other things going on as well because otherwise it won’t hold my attention long enough to write something.

    • Interesting! I can’t write (except shorter comments, FB, Twitter etc.) if I have a TV or music with lyrics going at the same time, I get distracted quite easily.

      I never used to pull my phone either until I got my first iPhone :P I do love it though, for when I’m not with friends, I am able to read much more than I used to because I use an app on my phone for all articles, blog posts etc.

  2. I’m not good at multitasking. Sometimes I can do it really well, but those are always times on high adrenaline, and afterwards I’m exhausted and have to rest. So, multitasking is not so much for me. Starting with mindfulness practice and focusing on one thing at a time has improved my quality of life a lot, but I really had to learn that!

    • Yeah I’m the same, if I’m high on adrenaline I can multitask fairly well, but like you I end up exhausted. I need to get better at mindfulness and take up meditation again.

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