Being an amazing multitasker used to be something to brag about. Women, in particular, have always been known and praised for their ability to do a zillion things at once. We’ve all grown up in the technology era, which means that we’ve become adept at observing, analyzing, and reacting to several forms of incoming information at once.
I know I’m not the only one who has simultaneously Gchatted with my best friend, texted my mom, perused Facebook on my laptop, scrolled through the day’s new headlines, and updated my Twitter status – and I still managed to fast-forward through every commercial break during a DVR’d episode of “New Girl.” If this sounds at all familiar, then you’ve mastered the multi-focused approach required by today’s millennials to keep up with the constant stream of communication invading our lives.
When I’m multitasking, I can get a hell of a lot done. The problem is, I don’t always feel like I’m doing a great job on any particular task. When I’m trying to do all the things, my attention is scattered and I’m mentally distracted. Not only do I lose focus when I’m spread too thin, but my levels of creativity and inspiration drop to almost zero. And what’s the point of checking something off a to-do list if I’ve lost the inspiration and ability to do it well? Bottom line: for me, multitasking quickly becomes exhausting and unsustainable.
So I’m trying a new approach. In fact, I’ve been doing the exact opposite of multitasking; lately I’ve been blocking out all distractions and giving my full focus to whatever I’m doing. I’m learning to put my phone away, close unnecessary Internet tabs, and clear physical space before I start on any task so I can be fully present. Maybe I don’t get quite as much done each day, but I feel really good about what I do accomplish. And it’s kind of amazing how quickly I can zoom through a task when I’m laser-focused.
I know my inner productivity beast will surface again at some point, but for now I’m choosing quality work and peace of mind over mental chaos and distraction.
What’s your experience with multitasking? Does it work for you, or do you get overwhelmed and distracted? Let us know!
Kristen & Rachel