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What is multitasking and is it possible?
Multitasking skills. Especially women believe they have the skills needed to multitask. To do several things at once.
But is that even possible?
Yes. Multitasking is possible. Very well even and it can take some boredom out of some tasks that just need to be done.
Think about ironing. You can listen to a podcast while you iron. Or make a meal plan while you’re on hold on a telephone call.
Usually, those are tasks that have a high-level of concentration combined with a low-level concentrating task.
But do you WANT to have multitasking skills? And how will it affect your productivity?
What happens if you multitask?
When you multitask, you need to understand that it takes more time to get the jobs done. Even if you have to concentrate on a high-level and a low-level task at the same time.
Listening to a podcast while ironing, for example, your brain can only concentrate on one task at a time. You must have noticed that all of a sudden you realize, you’ve missed part of the conversation, right? That’s when your brain was concentrating on the other task.
You would want to go back and listen to what you’ve missed and that’s when listening to that podcast episode takes longer. Especially if you want to learn something. Like I love to listen to a podcast about blogging or essential oils.
And that is only for a high-level and a low-level concentrating task. Imagine when you want to do two high-level concentrating tasks simultaneously. You really need to focus on each task. That is nearly impossible. Heck, it IS impossible!
Being a non-multitasking mom
Another fun example. Imagine your teen, very busy chatting with his/her friends on Snapchat or WhatsApp. You ask him/her something. Do you get his/her full attention right away? Of course not! He/she can’t multitask either. All of a sudden, he/she looks up from his/her phone and looks at you with confusion in his/her eyes: “Did you just ask me something?”.
We have to teach our teens and tweens that multitasking skills aren’t always the best thing to have. When they have to learn for an important test or for their exam, you want them to concentrate and focus on that one task, right? Explain to them that it is better to work in blocks with a little break in between. For example, the Pomodoro Technique is excellent for this. Study for 25 minutes and take a little break to chat with your friends online for 5 minutes.
Of course, we do have to set an example, as we need to do in everything we teach our kids. You could even work together and practice the Pomodoro Technique together.
Chances of making mistakes increase
So when you multitask you are not focussing on any of the tasks you are trying to do simultaneously. It’s only taking you longer in the end, to get the job done. And it even lets you make more mistakes. You are not doing a good job when you should pay attention to it for the full 100%. Giving only 80% of your attention to the task in front of you is bound to set you up for some, sometimes serious errors. And in the end, again, you need to spend time correcting those errors.
Task switching, not multitasking
Think about your tasks as tabs open on your computer or laptop. Multitasking would imply you’re paying attention to two or more tabs at the same time. If you multitask you are doing two or more tasks simultaneously. But what you are actually doing, is switching from one tab to another, back and forth quickly.
That is called task switching, not multitasking. And doing this, you need to think and often re-read what was on tab nr. 1, coming from tab nr. 2. Your concentration is broken, even for a split second and that is what robs you of precious time.
Draining you mentally
At the end of the day, when you had one with a big to-do list and you wanted to check off each and every one of them, aren’t you exhausted sometimes? That will even be worse if you try to multitask. Your brain is losing precious energy when you want to switch from one task to another. You can’t really get in the zone because you have to shift your mental gears all the time. And that is wearing you out, seriously.
You get much more energy out of checking tasks off of your to-do list one by one, believe me. Even when you take a walk, don’t multitask. Enjoy the moment of being in nature by yourself or talking to that walking buddy. Be mindful and in the moment.
What multitasking does:
- it takes more time to complete individual tasks
- it increases the chances of making mistakes
- it breaks your concentration by going back and forth between tasks
- it even can drain you mentally
So the best thing to do is to concentrate and stay in the moment. Focus on the one task at hand, especially with high-level tasks. That’s how you develop some good habits.
Now tell me: what do you think about multitasking? Let’s start the conversation in the comments.
Hi, I’m your time managing and organizing best friend. I am a mom of 3 teenagers and married to my best friend.
As a working mom myself, I love to show you how to juggle your time using routines & schedules and give you time managing tips.