Are you a habitual multitasker? I’m pretty sure that on some level, we’re all guilty. The reason we multitask is to save time, right? But what about the quality of work, quality of relationship and even the quality of our life. Is the trade off of saving time worth it?
I definitely qualify as a multitasker. I noticed how bad my multitasking had become when the other night, I sat down to watch one of my favorite TV shows and decided that I could work on some business at the same time on my laptop. Then I looked over at Rob and he was tapping on his iPhone, while watching the same show. That’s when it hit me. We’ve gone off the deep end. We can’t even sit to enjoy a mindless television program without being “connected” and multitasking. Whether it’s doing research for a new destination, reading about a new hotel, writing a new blog or just surfing the net, I couldn’t stop! The reality is, I was half doing both, which means both were suffering. Honestly, how can I watch, understand and enjoy a TV show while I’m reading hotel reviews and vice-versa! The truth is I can’t. So, not only am I doing crappy research, but I’m also not allowing myself enjoyment.
This got me thinking. Before cell phones became mini-computers, when you went out for dinner or to a movie with someone, 100% of the time was spent on conversation between you and your friend, husband or date. Now, when I go out to dinner, I notice that everyone has a cell phone on the table or even worse, in their hand. The other person is either staring out the window wishing they were somewhere else or on their phone too! Just ask my husband and he’ll tell you that his iPhone and I do NOT get along. I often remind him that his iPhone may end up with a cement block tied around it, swimming with the fishes, so to speak. Having a portable minicomputer is a wonderful advance in technology. In fact, when I got lost the other day trying to find the farmer’s market, I wished I had one. But, the millions of aps and immediate access to everything in your life with one tap is too addicting.
Then of course there is Facebook and twitter, which now can be accessed through your phone ap too! That is the ultimate in multitask time wasting. Not only are you Twittering and updating your Facebook status every 10 minutes, but you’re most likely doing it while doing something else or while with someone else. Just the other day I updated my FB status to tell everyone I was researching and writing a new blog. Was I? Or was I wasting my time while Facebooking, again that damn need to be “connected”.
The truth is, Multitasking is overrated and has consequences. If your entire focus is not on what you are currently doing, whether it’s work or play, it will suffer. Think of how your parents hounded you as a child to not watch TV or talk on the phone while doing your homework. In an effort to try to reduce my personal multitasking habit I decided to make a list including the multitasks and their consequences. Of course, as soon as you focus on something, it shows up constantly. Kinda like when you want to buy a new car and then you start seeing that make and model everywhere. Well, my list began to grow. But Wednesday morning, I hit multitask rock-bottom. Here’s the story. I was making breakfast, packing my lunch all while trying to come up with a title for a new product with Rob. I placed my lunch bag on top of the stove burner that I just took hard boiled eggs off of and burnt a hole right though it! Not only did I ruin my bag, possible the stove burner, but it could have started a fire and on top of all that, I was half listening to Rob when he was trying to have a real conversation with me. I felt like like an idiot. But the reality is, I’m just in need of Multitaskers Anonymous.
Multitasking is a disease that is taking over our country and our world. We are all in need of a cure. Understandably, we are not always going to make the right choice. And, just like eating a cookie while on a diet, your multitask will have a negative effect on your life and your work.
So, my mission is to bring back the Single Tasking mind frame. Here’s a few simple ideas that I think will improve your quality of life and your work.
- Pick a time to work on projects when you know you won’t be interrupted.
- When you answer your cellphone, stop taping on your computer.
- Shut off your phones and allow dinner to happen without the interruption of iPhones and Blackberries (which are called Crack-berries for a reason!).
- Don’t eat dinner in front of the TV or laptop.
- When you watch TV or a movie, let’s put the electronics away.
What do you think? Are your projects and relationships suffering due to over multitasking?