“Multitasking, that prized feat of modern-day office warriors, turns out to be a myth. Scientists now know that the brain is incapable of paying attention to two things at the same time. What looks like multitasking is really switching back and forth between multiple tasks, which reduces productivity and increases mistakes by up to 50 percent.” – Susan Cain
I couldn’t agree more – except that I don’t. Because I’ve found that the TYPE OF WORK being “multitasked” matters greatly and the more simple/less complex two tasks are, the more suited they are for multitasking, the more productive it is TO multitask.
- I have plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the thick tissue on the bottom of my left foot. As a result, I need to do a series of three leg/foot stretches twice a day. They only take about 3 minutes to do, but guess what? It takes about 3 minutes to brush my teeth with my Oral B electric toothbrush, too. And since both are pretty simple tasks, I’ve combined them. I stretch and brush SIMULTANEOUSLY, which increases the likelihood OF me doing my stretches AND requires no extra time to do so. Multitasking = INCREASED productivity and healing. (And a bright, shiny, smile, as well!)
- I walk the dog. It takes time – increasing time as she gets older and slower – but guess what? I now take a set of hand weights along with me. So now I walk the dog and exercise SIMULTANEOUSLY, which increases the likelihood OF me becoming more fit AND requires no extra time to do so. Multitasking = INCREASED productivity and fitness. (And a happy dog, as well!)
- I eat breakfast. I used to NOT eat breakfast. I also used to ‘choke down’ breakfast as fast as I could. But now I eat slowly – and guess what? Not only is that better for me, but it gives me time to do multitask. So I SIMULTANEOUSLY have breakfast and read the morning paper, which increases the likelihood of me knowing what’s going on in the world AND requires no extra time to do so. Multitasking = INCREASED nutrients, vitamins and minerals and knowledge and awareness. (And the energy I need to get each new day off to a great start!)
Other possibilities for productive multitasking include:
- Listening to audio books while driving
- Calling friends while cleaning up the office or around the house
- Enjoying an revitalizing afternoon coffee while catching up on emails
- Using time at the airport to read a book or magazine article
- Taking several, refreshing, deep breaths while on your way to your next meeting
Admittedly, none of these tasks are particularly complex or require much time. But that’s my point: SOME MULTITASKING = GOOD. Your assignment is just figuring out which tasks are simple enough – and compatible enough – to BE effectively “multitasked.”
Doing so is surprisingly satisfying!