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To multitask or not to multitask that is today’s question.
This is one of the many things I’ve changed my mind on in recent years. In today’s show I’m covering: The Multitasking Myth.
Let’s take multitasking and examine the Good, the Great and the DELUSIONAL.
My current belief is that as a rule, multitasking is not of value. In fact it’ll make you less efficient and less effective… so in that regard thinking you’re getting more done is often just deluding yourself. However I also want to cover Good and Great multi-taking. Those activities that are to your body gain benefit to apply a degree of multitasking too.
First up let’s deal with Bad or Delusional multitasking.
This is any 2 or more tasks that require you to THINK! So it’s answering your phone in the middle of some other task. Or responding to an email part way through the podcast episode you’re planning or report you’re writing.
It’s even designing a flier while listening to a webinar.
My qualifying questions for whether to multitask or not to multitask are:
One: What is the approach that creates your highest quality work?
Two: What is the most time effective approach?
Three: What approach makes you feel calm and focused?
The TIME component really is the big myth. This example really resonated with me: Imagine if you were to take two pieces of paper and on one you write the letters of the alphabet – one letter to a line – A to Z.
On the other piece of paper you write the first 26 numbers – one number to a line – 1 to 26.
So the multitasking approach is to swap between the 2 lists. Write A then 1. B then 2. C then 3. Or alternatively you can just do them one list at a time… and it’s going to be a whole lot quicker!
That sold me on the zero value in swapping between tasks that require focus and thought. I think, and I’ll speak for myself however perhaps it’ll resonate with YOU:
Multitasking can be an excuse. To swap from the hard thing. It can be a handy little distraction or form of procrastination rather than having the discipline to focus on the most important task first.
Let’s move onwards with Good Multitasking.
This is when you get stuff done in otherwise wasted, annoying waiting time. So it’s the texts you send while standing in line or emails you write while on or waiting for public transport. It’s also the stuff you get done while waiting for a client who is late. The extra benefit to this form of multitasking is that your waiting time is a little less frustrating if you can at least get something done.
I used to get super frustrated by late clients. Now I really only have one client who is ever late – as I choose my clients – while I’m waiting for him I get a lot done. The key is to have an easy to get into task ready for when you may be waiting for someone… and then it becomes just their time they are wasting!
Finally, Great Multitasking. The stuff that doesn’t affect the quality of your work. It’s super time efficient AND you feel calm and focused doing it.
Great multi-tasking is done with volition. You don’t just fall into to avoid something else. You choose it.
So for example, combining a mindless routine action with listening to an audio or talking. Such as:
=> listening to a podcast while making your meals, cleaning, washing, commuting to and from work or walking.
I prefer just music when I’m lifting weights though as I really think it’s important to focus.
=> turning face to face catches ups or phone chats with family/friends into a walk. Even your work meetings can
become walking meetings.
=> seeing longer block of travel time as focused working time. There’s something about being at the airport or on a plane that really helps me focus. I’m out of my normal environment with just enough background noise yet generally no real interruptions.
A couple of extra benefits to great multitasking are that:
One: You can use it as an incentive to get you to take an action you may find tough or tedious.
Perhaps jumping on the treadmill while you watch you fav T.V. show.
Or listening to an audio-book while you go for a long walk.
Two: You can use it as a trigger to get you in the right mindset.
So that might be the podcast you listen to on your way to work.
To get actionable today: Is there a mindful task that deserves your ultra-focused-non-multitasking attention that up until today hasn’t been getting it? Or alternatively: Is there mindless task that is actually an opportunity to fuel your mind with some effective-efficient-multitasking?
To finish todays show I have a quote from Marilyn Vos Savant, “Many people feel they must multitask because everybody else is multitasking, but this is partly because they are all interrupting each other so much”.
HA, I love it.
That brings us to the end of todays show. Thanks so much for hanging with me. I appreciate it.
If you liked this you’ll also like: Results yesterday v. Actions tomorrow (that equation doesn’t work!)
If you’re yet to share the Healthification love – just click here to zip over to iTunes and leave an honest rating and review. It’d help me out big time. With gratitude, Kate.