Is Multi-Tasking Taking You Away from Enjoying Your Life?

by on May 5, 2011

Is Multi-Tasking Taking You Away from Enjoying Your Life?

I happened to be juggling a number of different tasks last week.  I’m sure that is no different for many of you.  One of the things I realized I had fallen into the habit of doing was trying to use every available minute I had to fill with some action I termed “productive”, so I could get action moving on as many items as possible.  Often this would ultimately lead me to being stressed over how I was going to complete or perform the key task of the moment, since my attention had now wandered from it.  My attention was now diverted to other tasks which had completion dates at a later time.

One of the terms, which has become part of our vocabulary over the last several years, is multi-tasking.  I don’t know exactly who originated it.  Certainly as our world became more technology based, it certainly allowed for the growth of the concept.  However, multi-tasking is certainly the nemesis of such concepts as prioritization, focusing on your goals and persevering on what you are looking to accomplish until it is properly completed.

Anyway, I was getting ready for a presentation that I was scheduled to do one morning last week.  I had prepared my materials the day before.  Additionally, I had reviewed my presentation the night before and had given it a quick review in the morning.  I had a few minutes before I had to leave for where the presentation was to be delivered when I had the urge to just sign onto my computer, check into my e-mail, and see what may be there.  Then all of a sudden I said to myself, “WAIT!  What are you doing? You’re relaxed, prepared and looking forward to doing this talk.  Why are you even considering getting focused on something else when you have to leave in a few minutes to do this talk to which you are looking forward?”

Fortunately, I caught myself in time.  I then realized the last couple of days, I had also been most productive when I concentrated on tasks one at a time, gotten them completed, and then moved onto the next task that I had chosen to do during this day.  Basically, I am a very good planner.  I usually use a few minutes on the weekend to scope out the week ahead.  I’ll determine for the week what items are coming up which have times that I cannot move, (usually appointments or calls at already scheduled times).  Then I’ll determine next the tasks I choose to get accomplished that week, and look to slot them accordingly.  When there are multiple tasks to be accomplished, but they’re in similar locations, (such as errands to run), I’ll look to perform them in a sequence that makes the best use of my time.  I also look to make a promise to myself as to have a starting and stopping time for my activities, so as to give myself a chance to have time to decompress and not be so focused on getting tasks completed.

When I gave my self a few moments to think things through I realized that prioritization, focus and perseverance were when I was most productive, serene and gaining a sense of accomplishment.  Multi-tasking basically provided me stress, a sense of always rushing around, being in a hurry and a basically uncomfortable feeling that took away from me enjoying my life.  Why would I want to keep doing that to myself?

Have I learned my lesson?  I’m not sure, because I am a human being and often the traits we try not to exhibit are not always the easiest ones of which to let go.  Did I reinforce awareness within myself?   I’m certain that I did since the feeling of serenity I had both before, during and even after my presentation is one that I realize I have a choice of continually experiencing as long as I choose how I approach the task at hand.  If you’re feeling particularly stressed about what is going on in your life, take a step back and look how you approach your day and the tasks at hand.  Where may you be your own worst enemy by trying to accomplish multiple items at the same time?  Yes, they may all be important to you and perhaps more than one needs attention in a day.  However, you really can only do one at a time.  One is usually more important than another at any particular moment.  Once that concept takes place in you, you can begin to enjoy life the way it is meant to be enjoyed, moment to moment, activity to activity and experience to experience.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Marc Miller May 7, 2011 at 11:04 pm

I am a career design expert who helps people find new careers. I use the Birkman method to assess their behaviors, needs and interests. One of the behavior is “change” and your ability to deal with lots of things going on. I am very low change, therefore I do not multi-task very well. I have multiple clients that are very high change, therefore they need to multitask to be effective and enjoy life. None of us are the same.

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Csilla Moffat May 9, 2011 at 11:19 am

Very well put although i agree with Marc Miller, who has left a comment, that we are all different and those who are very high change can, in fact, multi task. My experience, however, has shown me that multi-taskers, regardless of whether they are high change or not, miss out on the whole experience. They are not centred, they are not in complete joy of what they have just performed/experience. I am all for being present, for being in the moment and that is contrary to multi-tasking.

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