My Life Pre-Kid was ALL Multi-Tasking
Back in the day, as they say, I was a corporate ladder climber and worked all hours to get to the top. I multi-tasked EVERYTHING.
While working on a spreadsheet, I’d be thinking of the next steps in testing the current implementation of software at a clients. Then get a phone call and keep working on the spreadsheet and making notes on something else I just thought of.
I thought I was awesome and soooo clever for achieving so much in my day. In actual fact, I probably achieved all that I did because I was a work-a-holic and worked a minimum of 10hours a day and usually 12hours. I’d also work 1/2 to 1 full day every Saturday.
I wasn’t made to do this. I thought I needed to be seen to be working all hours to succeed. It was a time when being stressed and always busy working as a badge of honour. If I wasn’t working what was I?
Then I became a Mum – Way More Multi-Tasking
Becoming a solo-mum at 41 was certainly a test on my multi-tasking. Keeping an eye on the rug-rat, cooking, cleaning and working was a real test.
Add in the utter exhaustion of caring for a newborn and I realised I had to change, or I would implode. I accepted that the house didn’t need to be as clean as a show home and if the kid was alive, fed and clothed – we were all good!
Learning to accept I was working on a single task at a time has given me more, much more. I’m living IN the moment and enjoying it – not thinking of 3 other things and planning for next week, next month or even next year.
I still think of the future, but I take notes of the tasks and ideas and then put them to the side until it’s time to focus on them.
No More Multi-Tasking
My son is now 8 and I'm working a day job plus building this website up to become my fulltime job. Finger crossed.
I no longer see the value in multi-tasking. I've come to realise, that for me, I'm a bit older and my brain just isn't working the way it use to. Blame that on pre-menopause - Ugh!
Plus I don't really think I was actually all that productive back in the day, I just worked really, really long hours and that's how I managed to achieve a lot. I was NOT happy, I was always STRESSED and dreaming of a more relaxing lifestyle.
You don't get what you want just from dreaming you need to make a change. So I now choose to work on what I need to and get more sleep. I use Droptask to keep track of all my tasks and workflows and I get to them when I can. Yes, I have deadlines, but I don't overwork myself with ridiculous timelines -- I'm way more realistic now and find I'm more focussed for each task now - and seeing better results.
Research suggests it is physically impossible for humans to focus on 1 actual task at a time. I'm not going to reference all those studies, my point today isn't about all the facts or theories out there. I'm just giving you my own observations and how I am more productive now.
If you think about it, and you can easily test this yourself, if you are constantly switching gears to think or act on different tasks all the time, how much time do you take to get back in the zone of each task? I can't just switch from one to the other without taking a little time to remember where I was with that task and the next step. Awesome if you can, but I know now I can't. So I choose to work for either a set amount of minutes before a break or keep working on the task I've assigned myself until it is completed.
As much as interruptions can be tempting (especially when something is difficult), I'm trying to keep myself to 'finish' a task before I move on. Of course 'finish' may not be to complete the task in full, but to complete that part you are working on at that time.
Like this blog post. I tend to draft the outline and then my 1st draft, walk away for a day and then come back and finish on the next read through.
At any one time, I can have 5 blog post drafts on the go at differing stages. But when I choose to work on one, I work only on that one and when it’s family-time — I choose to be in the moment with my son (not on a device and miles away thinking/planning work later).
How About You? Are you a Multi-Tasker?
Let me know your thoughts on multi-tasking. Do you multi-task, or have you realised it's not for you?