“To do two things at once is to do neither.” —Publilius Syrus
Have you ever bragged about multitasking? My husband does that on the regular. He’s always reminding me of how well he multitasks and that I should multitask more. Is that right? Should working moms be masters at multitasking? The short answer is NO!
Most moms I talk with would answer that as yes, especially my working moms. And a few moms would brag about it even. Unfortunately, multitasking as a good practice is actually a myth perpetuated by our constant connection to technology. Not only is multitasking not a good practice in general, it can also create more anxiety and overwhelm than we already experience as working mothers. Let’s discuss the facts about being a master at multitasking….
Fact #1: Multitaskers make more mistakes.
Fact #2: Multitaskers tend to make poorer decisions because they tend to rely on old information.
Fact #3: Chronic multitaskers take longer to complete tasks.
Fact #4: Multitaskers also experience more stress.
The more you bounce around from task to task, the harder it is to go back to the original task. Research shows that we lose 28% of our workday simply from bouncing around on different tasks. Your brain has to reorient to what you were working on before and thus losing value milliseconds of effective work. And if you are a chronic multitasker, the more distorted your perception will be of how long it actually takes to complete a task. Chronic multitaskers usually overestimate how long it takes to complete tasks and commonly just put things off. This pile-up of loose ends causes insurmountable stress.
We only have so much brain capability at any one time. Multitasking does not help increase that capability.
I like the Buddhist perspective of this. They refer to multitasking as monkey mind. We think we are master multitaskers, but instead, we’re actually just driving ourselves bananas!
Here’s what I want you to do….It’s my simple DONE Formula….
Decide on what task you need to complete first.
What task if completed would leave you feeling amazing and accomplished? Do that one first! When we spread ourselves thin by working on multiple projects, we ultimately don’t complete anything and as a result, we are behind in multiple areas. This is often the hardest step because it can be difficult to prioritize the task you need to complete. Usually, we know what we need to complete, we just don’t want to do it, so we do the easier tasks first. Don’t settle for easy, focus on thriving!
Organize your time to allow you to complete that task.
Any by organize, I mean put it in your calendar. If you aren’t using a calendar right now, I suggest starting with Google Calendar and sync it to your iCal if you have an iPhone. I personally use both a paper and an electronic calendar. The electronic calendar is great for alerts so you can have reminders to help you get tasks done. My paper calendar of choice is the StartPlanner. If you don’t schedule the time, you won’t get the task done, so step 2 is essential.
Say NO to whatever takes your time away from that task until you have completed it.
It’s not enough to schedule in your calendar because there will be other things that come up and you will be faced with the choice of ignoring your calendar or trying to squeeze it in. Don’t agree to do it until you have completed the task you decided you need to complete first.
Execute on the task.
Last step…Work momma til the task is complete! I changed my mind…I think this step is the hardest. This is where the distractions show up and tempt you to multitask. Don’t give in though. Come up with solutions in advance so you don’t get derailed. Think of as many scenarios as you can and have a backup plan for each one. You know the usual suspects, the kids are sick, you’re running late and still have to cook dinner, you’re tired, you’re behind at work, and now you’ve caught the bug from the kids. Nip all those distractions in the bud by having a backup plan.
And then my fellow mom, holla DONE! No master multitasking needed…
Can’t wait to hear how you implemented the DONE Formula!