Is Multi-tasking really productive?
For the longest time, I have prided myself as being a multi-tasker. As a woman, as a mother, as someone who is constantly trying to do new things; I didn’t think there was any other way.
But that changed after I had a discussion with my brother and also heard another homeschooling mom mention that she doesn’t believe that multi-tasking is truly productive.
These two incidences happened within one week, and I just couldn’t ignore thinking more in-depth about it.
My first question was; ‘How can someone do multiple things and not be a multi-tasker?’
My brain had become hardwired to believe that without doing multiple things at the same time, goals could not be achieved at all.
I have started to think differently now. It really does make sense to do one activity/task at a time, give it full time and attention and move on to the next.
However, it is different for everyone and would depend on a number of factors like:
Deadlines - If you have a strict deadline to submit a project, or be somewhere, doing one task at a time may not help.
“A deadline is negative inspiration. Still, it's better than no inspiration at all.” ― Rita Mae Brown
Time - Certain tasks require more time than others, and may demand more concentration too. It’s best to do those separately rather than overlapping them with others.
Intellectual ability - On a day-to-day basis there are some activities we perform that happen robotically. We don’t need to use a lot of intellect for them, like running a load of laundry or making a quick, simple breakfast, etc. These are good to be paired with the ones that need your brains full capacity. This way you can have two tasks accomplished. Giving these habituated tasks undivided attention can result in wasting time (considering you don’t have much).
Management related tasks – Some of my tasks involve delegating, this helps keep everyone busy and also increases productivity. When everyone around you has been given duties, you are less distracted, and the interruptions also reduce. You will also get a feeling of accomplishing more in the day even though you weren’t involved in them individually.
Apart from the four factors mentioned above, you may find better criteria to divide your duties and discover your capacity. While it does logically make sense to do one task at a time, and do it perfectly, I tend to mix this up some times.
Using the above criteria, I am able to divide my to-do list into two; those that can be multi-tasked and those that shouldn’t.
In the end, it’s about finding our own balance. When we note down the list of tasks we have at hand, it also enables us to gain clarity on how much capacity we have.
This can help us narrow them down and understand where we need to give most of our time, energy, possibly money and other resources. After all, they are limited too!
Basically, in the end, the goal is to accomplish your task well, so try a couple of combinations to see if being a multi-tasker, single tasker or a combination of both works for you.
About the author:
A storyteller at heart, Zainab strings together words to share her experiences with the world. She likes to read, doodle and obsess over stationery. Mommy of two kids, she's excited to venture into her thirties and explore life with a hint of more maturity.
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