By Hanan Awaad
I grew up believing that to be the most successful version of myself I have to master multi-tasking. It was normal to be on the phone with a friend and cooking, I have two hands, so why not use them both. House chores were never ‘tasks’ for me, but what I call it ‘half tasks,’ meaning that I have to do something else while doing errands. I have to listen to something while driving; rearranging the closet while discussing something important with my husband; or reading the newspaper and listening to my son telling me about his day; or on phone while checking a report I would send to my manager; or running four Google searches on four different topics, two are work-related, one is kitchen-related, and one is health-related or any other thing.
I believe the way I described myself as a multitasker, hundreds of thousands of people would use to describe themselves. We write it down in our resumes, we emphasize it in interviews and sing it out loud when we praise a successful person. All modern women are multitaskers, as well as employees, freelancers, and everyone.
We borrowed the term from computer engineering. Multitasking is a term refers to the ability of a microprocessor to perform several tasks at the same time. I asked a friend who is a computer engineer and she explained to me that even microprocessors cannot perform more than one function. Microprocessors are linear, they can only perform one task at a time, and this is the reason computer engineers developed dual-core and quad-core microprocessors to handle more than one task at a time.
Dr. Daniel Levitin in his book “The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in an Age of Information Overload,” explains that multitasking is a myth; it is sequential tasking, meaning that our brains keep switching from one thing to another in a very short amount of time. He warns that multitasking, in addition to wasted time and less productivity, it causes stress and mental fog and productivity studies prove that you get less done when you multitask.
We are trying to make the impossible possible and we push ourselves hard to do it. The idea of giving our undivided attention to the task at hand is the foundation of success, not the opposite. Partial attention will result in partial results. When I reflect on our lives and our busy, hectic schedules, I visualize a hamster running in its wheel … always moving but going nowhere. Multitasking is nothing except using part of our attention for a longer span of time to reach the same or fewer results than if we use full attention for less time. In other words, multi-tasking is multi-wasting. Not only this but also if one of the tasks we are juggling involves interacting with other people, they will feel that we are not giving them our undivided attention.
Here are three strategies that you can do and stop wasting your time and energy:
Schedule short breaks of 10 to 15 minutes for every hour of undivided, focused work on a particular task.
Shut Off Distractions
Depending on the task at hand, eliminate all distractions from your environment. You still can clean the house while listening to music, but not while reading or writing a work-related report.
Schedule Phone Calls And Social Media
While planning your day, schedule those time slots where you will be able to receive or make phone calls and check your Facebook and Instagram accounts.
A bonus strategy is ‘Napping’: napping is another strategy to enable oneself to tackle many tasks with 10-15 naps in between. It helps to restore your depleted glucose and recharges your brain task-positive network or the part of the brain that is fully engaged in a task preventing mind-wandering mode.
Tell us which of the above mentioned strategy you like the most.
Originally posted 2016-02-19 00:56:06.