On any given weekday morning, especially during the school year or summer when Sweet B has extended school year, I was multitasking. Squeaker was usually up before her sister, so that means having to juggle the toddler while I’m trying to get Sweet B’s breakfast ready. Just yesterday, in fact, Squeaker was feeling particularly clingy. Usually, I would just pop her into her baby carrier and be on my way, but by that point I just wanted to get some things done. I was also supposed to attend a webinar and I had a printable to work on, threads to finish up… you get the picture. So instead of grabbing the trusty Ergo, I balanced her on my hip and went about my way. Multitasking is something that I do frequently, but most of the time I shouldn’t. Instead I get caught in the illusion of multitasking until it catches up with me later.
Multitasking means that a person is doing more than one task at a time. Because so many people are incredibly busy, multitasking has become a way of life. On any given day at the same time, you’ll see people who are simultaneously walking, updating their Facebook, texting, and talking to people.
Because all of these tasks are going on at the same time, the brain is forced to react quickly, moving back and forth, constantly changing focus. Studies have shown that not only do those who multitask not get more accomplished, but they’re more apt to face burnout, higher levels of stress and a poorer quality of life.
The Downside and Illusion of Multitasking
Your brain was not meant to deal with an overload of material in so little time. When you multitask, just like you’re splitting your attention between things on your to-do list, you’re also splitting yourself figuratively.
You might be checking things off that list but no one thing has your full focus and neither do those you love. When you’re in a relationship and your partner is speaking and you’re on your cell phone sending a text message, you’re not really listening to them.
Multitasking has helped to cause people to feel less empathetic toward others because people don’t really hear and aren’t really aware of the full scope of the situations they’re seeing or hearing about.
There’s another downside to multitasking. When you’re not fully present with what you’re doing or who you’re spending time with, you miss things. You’ll discover that you have a tendency to spend a lot of time and energy on things that don’t really matter.
Multitasking keeps you perpetually distracted. The cure for multitasking is mindfulness. This means that you’re focused on the present. You’re giving whatever task you’re doing 100% of yourself.
It means that whoever you’re interacting with is not having to compete for your attention because you’re 100% present with them. Being fully present can help to deepen relationships with those you love.
It can also make you better at your job, more understanding of your coworkers and happier in all aspects of your life. When you’re being mindful, you’re focused. You’ve got your mind and your emotions fully engaged.
By being focused, you’re aware of the task. Getting it done will be easier and you won’t be nearly as stressed. When you focus on a person, you’ll be able to have a deeper connection without multitasking.
You’ll be fully engaged in your own life and in the lives of the people you interact with. Mindfulness can teach you how to keep your focus on the moment. It can show you how to enjoy the day to day tasks and situations even if they’re mundane.
Plus when you practice being mindful, it’ll help you to recognize when you’re not. You’ll gain the intuition to know when something doesn’t really have your full attention.