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Why multitasking is a dirty word

You hear it all the time – “oh they’re so good at multi-tasking”. Sure, they’re good at doing many things at once, but when you look closely, how well are they really doing all of those individual things?

The picture here tells my story this week. Trying to do too many things at once, I thought I’d make some wholemeal bread for the family. Well done Mama… right? Except that at the same time, I was also busy working and then I watered the garden and then had a phone call and then something else and something else and then BOOM! My poor old bread had been proving a little bit too long. Did it wreck the bread? Not entirely, but it wasn’t as good as I would have hoped. And that’s the dreaded downfall of multi-tasking. Sure, you manage to do many things, but how many do you actually do to their full potential. I wasn’t fully concentrating on proving the bread, nor apparently was I concentrating on packing as I sent the wrong orientation to a customer and now we’re out of the one she wanted. Disappointing for everyone.

In trying to be super mum and super business-woman, something has to give. And it is multi-tasking. This is a lesson I am trying very hard to learn for myself, trying to maintain a business and a busy family, because I have been a multi-tasker from way back. But the thing is, the results are the same. Whether it is as simple as talking on the phone and pulling the blinds down for bed time, or making dinner and trying to change a baby’s nappy, eventually, something will fall to the side. It might be a degradation in results – not paying attention to the conversation, or letting the pasta boil over or it might be a complete and total failure – the blind cord wasn’t tucked away properly, and your child got a hold of it, or the dinner is completely ruined. In taking things one step at a time, it allows our brain to concentrate fully on what we are engaged in.

I know I keep harping on about them, but the focus of your day should be around accomplishing what is on your list. Sure, with kids around or pesky co-workers, there is always going to be something that interrupts what you are doing. If it is important enough to interrupt you, take the time to focus on it, or, ask them to give you time to finish the task that you are doing. This also goes back to my Ditch Delegate or Do blog post, where it discusses that you don’t actually have to do everything yourself! Shock horror, right?!

But honestly, taking the time to focus your efforts on one thing at a time might seem like a drain on your time, but it is a tradeoff between efficiency and effectiveness. Your efficiency might go down because you’re taking longer to achieve your outcomes, but your effectiveness will increase because the quality of your task will be greater.

Your brain and your ego will also thank you for it, because it will be happy in the knowledge that you’re achieving your goals, and there is nothing better in a world of chaos, than ticking something off your to do list!!

November 28, 2016 by Kelly Walter

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