Confessions of a MultitaskerMarch 6, 2011
As I type this I have two laptops side by side. One is work and one is play. I am popping back and forth between the two when I feel like it. But this isn’t multitasking. And it’s Sunday afternoon.
The real multitasking happens Monday through Friday, 8:00 – 6:00. This is when I am logged on and plugged into my computer working on deadlines, answering and sending email, participating on back-to-back conference calls, and instant messaging. My BlackBerry and iPhone are inches away in case someone texts. Maybe someone will come to my door and whisper a request as I put the phone on mute to respond. Can you relate? Have you even been focused on a spreadsheet or report while in a virtual meeting and were called upon but you did not hear? “Um, would you repeat the question, please?”
This is how I have lived out my workday for over four years now. And I actually have been proud of this, thinking “look how much I can get done by being such an effective multitasking queen!”
Then last week I heard Dr. Sandy Chapman, Founder and Chief Director of the Center for Brain Health. She spent a couple of hours speaking to leaders in my organization about the importance of focused attention on brain health, what is good for our brains and will help us be more effective and live longer, and what is toxic. The number one toxic activity? Multitasking.
Yep. For the last four years I have been steadily and purposefully sending my brain into decline, teaching it how to respond to anything and everything, and effectively eliminating its ability to focus on one thing and block out all else. I have also noticed I’ve become less efficient at this “skill” and more aware of the stress it induces.
So I am going to work on curbing my nasty multitasking habits. I am going to listen to Dr. Chapman and take care of my brain. I am going to disincent multitasking in my organization and promote focused attention on prioritized tasks. I am going to find a way to castrate the Email Frankenstein created by the corporation and fed by my organization, and I am going to live a long and healthy life, God willing, as a reformed and recovered multitasker. Wish me good will!
Additional resource: Tips to Improved Brain Health for Every Generation