A groan escaped from my gut. I had been multi-tasking, sending out an email while a batch of cookies baked in the oven, preparing my home for the arrival of visitors and thinking about my future move.
The focus on the present task had muted the sound of the timer.
A minute later I jumped up, flying to the kitchen.
But it was too late.
The perfect cookie was not to be. They were still edible, tasty, but not as good as they could have been if I taken the time to do one thing at a time instead of trying to juggle.
I do that a lot. And I discover that it ends up costing me more than I gain from doing it. I think I can handle changing tasks, doing multiple things at the same time and successfully bringing everything together.
But that rarely happens. What does happen is I end up frustrated, irked and falling behind. Things need to be re-done. In the shuffle I lose focus on differentiating between the important and the urgent.
Ultimately, in a desperate attempt to not feel that I have wasted the time and lost the day, I default to busy work- tasks that do not help me get to my ultimate goals, but lick the wounds of recovering from a lost day!
But even the attempt to “feel better” about completing busy tasks does not eliminate the knowledge from my mind that I have let go of the important work- the work that is directly linked to fulfilling my goals.
Stanford released a study in 2009 regarding people’s ability to multi-task, especially between media sources (think talking on the phone, checking and responding to email and if you are like me- also throwing together a batch of cookies).
The researchers at Stanford thought that people who multitasked had the ability to function higher at switching between different activities and taking in more information from multiple sources.
But, after extensive study, they found the opposite to be true.
Multi-tasking may lead to “cognitive impairment.”
Ultimately, the effects of multi-tasking tend to stress us out. It is harder for the brain to switch gears and re-focus continually.
In addition, we lose track of why we are working on what we are working on and how it relates to the goals of the day.
For all the multi-tasking people today- I challenge you to join me on this challenge. Today, and this week take your to-do list and attack each activity one at a time.
Focus all your energy on the present task until it is complete or you have reached the point of stopping to move on to something else. When you stop a task, take a deep breath. Refocus your thought stream on the next job and fully enter into it.
At the end of the day, reflect on the day.
How successful are you in reaching more goals? How do you feel? Frustrated (change is hard!) or encouraged?
I would love to hear your thoughts!
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