Have you ever locked yourself in a room just to get a few minutes of quiet? I have. I felt a little guilty for it…But I was trying to finish editing a chapter, my kids were hungry, my husband had just gotten home wanting to know how my day was, I was running late with supper, and I had about five emails that needed replies… even my Labrador retriever wanted something from me as she dropped her ball at my feet.
I’ll bet at some point today, you were trying to do two (or more) things at once. Perhaps someone was even peeking over your shoulder, making another demand on your time! I personally got interrupted with questions and “help” at least three times while writing this…
For women especially, multitasking has become just part of our day. If you work at home like me, the lines get really blurred and you become a champion juggler.
Well, I have some welcome advice for you: Stop! The term “multitask” – to be able to execute two or more jobs at the same time – came from the computer world. If you look it up, many dictionaries specifically use the term computer in its definition.
Somehow, the human resources world latched onto the term, and from there it became mainstream. However, multitasking is a total myth. Numerous studies, including research from the University of London, show that people make more mistakes when multitasking. They retain less information and are generally less efficient in a task. It takes time for the brain to switch gears from one job to another (writing a report to answering emails, for example). Studies have shown that IQ scores go down – similar to going without sleep for a night – when multitasking.
So, if you find yourself trying to juggle two or more things at once, or being pulled in several directions, try these.
Why Multitasking Is Your Worst Enemy And 7 Ways To Defeat It
Stop and take a breath. Then another. And I mean nice, slow breaths, in through the nose and out through your mouth.
Simple advice, sure. But it works! This is an instant way to relax, get calm, and re-focus.
2. Look At The Bigger Picture
It really does help to write tasks down (in a notebook, not your computer!). Step back and look at your list. Which is most important or can be done and checked off the quickest? I routinely number mine in order of importance.
The key thing to remember here is to do one task off your list at a time.
3. Let Others Know
Let those around you know that you need some mental (and sometimes physical) space and time and that you are able to do one thing – well – at a time.
4. Create Your Focus Space
Have a “do not disturb” space. When I need to work, I go to my office, close the door, and make it known that “if the door’s not open, keep hopin'”!
5. Drop The Guilt
Don’t feel guilty when people needed something from you, like, yesterday. That’s their bag of tricks, not yours.
6. It’s Okay To Have A Limit
Remember that there are only so many minutes in a day. It’s okay to have a limit. In fact, if you don’t, you’re probably not human.
7. It’s Okay To Say No
Say it with me: “No.” Remember that word, and use when needed.
As women, at times we tend to be everything to everyone. It’s nice to be needed, but remember the other person in your life who needs you: you! Take time out for yourself every day, even if it’s a ten-minute break between tasks to have a cup of tea, browse through a travel or style mag, or just stare out the window!
Being able to focus is crucial. When I wrote one of my books, I came up with my best ideas while walking with my dog, Skyler, in the park.
(She’s not a big conversationalist, but she’s great company!)
The ability to walk and think, with no distractions, allowed me to work through storyline problems and up my creativity. (It also took away a few cases of the grumpies.)
So, next time someone asks you to multitask, take a breath, and ask them to take a number!
Latest posts by Sue Comeau (see all)
- Why Multitasking Is Your Worst Enemy And 7 Ways To Defeat It - April 18, 2017