My middle name was multitasking.
I’ve always considered myself to be “good” at multitasking. I am usually able to get a few things done simultaneously, and get them done pretty well. Sure, it may take a little bit longer, but I was getting multiple things done at once, so that made up for the time. I think that when you become a parent, developing the skill of multitasking is a matter of survival….but is it really hurting us more than it helps?
The other day, I came across THIS POST over at Lifehacker about starting your day with Focus. It was an interesting article, but what really caught my eye was the case the author Leo Babauta made for “single tasking.” I saw that there was a link to another article about single tasking in the side bar, so I clicked on it for more info. THIS POST talked more about this idea of single tasking, and how it makes a lot more since in our lives and will help to reduce our stress level, along with other great effects. Both of the articles got me thinking…would single tasking be more effective?
Naturally, I decided to play with the idea a little bit over the last few days. I’ve been trying really hard to focus on one task at a time, and working only on that task. The reality is, sometimes it’s hard. I get distracted by the internet just as much as the next guy (curse you Facebook!), and it’s hard to ignore your four year old as they tell you a story because you have to focus on the one task you’re doing. I wasn’t really surprised that single tasking had it’s challenges.
What did surprise me is how effective it was when I actually was able to do it. I got a lot more done when I shut my browser window, and tuned everything else out (read: waited for my girls to go to bed). Normally, I would start something, wander away from it for five and start something new, then go back…you get the picture. When I actually sat down and focused on getting one task done – magic. The task was done, plus I felt that I did a better job on the task. A bonus: a lot of the tasks I did when I was single tasking seemed easier to do than they would have been if I was doing more than one thing at a time.
What’s the moral? Being good at multitasking is useful, but not all the time. Both multitasking and single tasking have their place in my day to day routine. However, just like multitasking, single tasking requires you to “get better at it” before it really hits it’s stride. My plan for the future: use both, but work on my single tasking skills and try to use single tasking more in my life.
Do you multitask? Do you think that single tasking would be more helpful for you? Let’s talk in the comments below.