In an effort to save time and check off more items from the to-do list, multi-tasking initially seems like the ideal way to improve your production. For example, while you’re cooking breakfast, why not talk on the phone, or continuing to check your email while sitting down for a meal. Needless to say, neither task is likely to be done well, and if that’s the case, why do we keep choosing to multi-task?
After all, isn’t the purpose of living to be consciously aware of what we’re doing so that we may luxuriate in all the moment has to offer, not just doing it to get it done? Multi-tasking, I’ve come to discover, is akin to wasting time, although it may not seem that way at first. In other words, when we choose to multi-task we choose to not be consciously aware of the moment we’re in because we are too busy trying to just get something done simply to be done with it.
1. More pleasure
The simple rituals that I mentioned on Monday that are designed to create moments you look forward to throughout your daily routine can only be enjoyed if you are one hundred percent focused on immersing yourself in that moment. If you are soaking in a bubble bath, just soak, relax and let the day’s worries melt away (if only for 30 minutes). If you are having dinner with your family or significant other, turn off your cell phone, refuse to answer any calls and get lost in the conversation. By not allowing unnecessary interruptions, you welcome in opportunity for deeper engagement and thoughtful discussion.
2. Quality work
I’ve come to realize that when I sit down on the computer to write, it is best if I stay offline so that I can focus solely on the task at hand and not be distracted by incoming email, breaking news or anything else that may try to distract me as I organize my thoughts. By choosing to put all of your energy into one thing at a time, each project receives your best efforts and a better chance of being completed properly on the first attempt, which ultimately saves you time, which ironically is the goal of multi-tasking.
3. Priorities solidified
An interesting way to determine what truly is of importance to you and in your life is when you choose to eliminate multi-tasking. The mission: no matter what you do, refuse any distractions. When you are sitting at a meeting, do not check your phone. When you are reading a book, turn off the television. When you are spending time with the person you are dating, don’t always bring your friends along as well. In other words, if you are engaged in each situation fully, you will quickly be able to discern where and how you enjoy spending your time.
If you can never stay focused in meetings, maybe you should suggest a more productive approach. If you are not able to read a book without background noise, maybe the book just simply isn’t that thought provoking or attention grabbing and you should stop and pick up another one. And if you always have to bring your friends along when you spend time with the person you are dating, maybe you should reconsider whether or not there is any potential for a significant relationship with this person.
4. Reduce stress
Believe it or not, by eliminating multi-tasking you are going to reduce your stress. While you won’t eliminate it all together, what you will find is that by putting your energy into one project at a time and seeing it through until it is completed, you won’t be worried about an unfinished project as you are working on another one. In other words, you won’t be running around like a juggler trying to keep far too many balls in the air from hitting the ground.
Essentially, while multi-tasking was designed to aid us in created a more productive life, it actually hinders us. Not only does it distract us from the present, which is where we will always be, but it unnecessarily lengthens projects, increases stress and doesn’t allow for amazing moments with the people we love and the tasks we enjoy to materialize.