Is Multitasking a Good Thing?

How many times have you seen a driver trying to multitask?  Whether they are drinking a cup of coffee, applying makeup or reading, its a sign that our lives has gone beyond the scope of norm.  If our frenzied, chaotic lives require this type of multitasking, it is a sign that something needs to give.

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Per Wikipedia: Human multitasking is the apparent performance by an individual of handling more than one task at the same time. The term is derived from computer multitasking. An example of multitasking is taking phone calls while typing an email. Multitasking can result in time wasted due to human context switching and apparently causing more errors due to insufficient attention.  Multitasking can also involve performing a number of tasks in rapid succession.

We are all guilty of it.  I know I am.  I work full time and have three kids at home.  Over the past year, I have been working on graduate classes on top of my other commitments.  It hit me like a brick wall when I was working on the computer, typing up an assignment as my son is trying to talk to me about his day.  I was not giving him 100% of my attention.  Later that night, he asked if we could just talk, rather than reading a bedtime story.  I realized that I owe him, as well as the others in my life, my undivided attention.

Multitasking in the workplace is often viewed as a positive when it actually can reduce productivity by as much as 40%.  Trying to handle multiple tasks at once can make it harder to tune out distractions and can produce mental blocks.  Whether at work or at home, trying to do too many things at once keeps us from being present moment oriented.  We are often distracted and lack focus as well as losing out on the enjoyment of the task at hand.

Try it for a moment.  Choose a task or chore that needs to get done and focus on that task alone.  You will find that even something as basic as folding laundry can be enjoyable.  Additionally, you will find that you concentrate better on these tasks when only taking on one at a time.  I can retain more when reading, complete a better homework assignment and really enjoy our family time when I choose not to multitask.

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