Confessions of a Multi-tasker



business-19156_640Winter passed, spring is well underway and I wonder.

What have I accomplished? I’m at least two months behind on most of my major goals.

Sure, a lot can be explained by unplanned travel for family reasons. Assisting a handicapped relative relocate to residential program, helping another with a new baby, and other life events popped up and claimed my attention.

But I may have another problem.

Ready for a confession?

I am a die-hard multi-tasker.

 

All my working life, I’ve loved to have multiple projects going. My rationale was that:

1. It was more interesting to have a lot going on than just one thing
2. When I got stuck on one project, I could shift to another. In the meantime, my subconscious would figure out what to do next on the first project.
3. Working on different projects helped me be more creative on all of them

There’s some truth to those reasons. But there’s also a fourth unspoken justification:

I could switch projects if I was bored with one, or just didn’t feel like tackling it.

So now I look at my writing projects and the other projects I’ve committed to, and have to ask myself the question. Why am I having such a hard time getting things done?

A quick google search for “productivity” gave me an answer.

Focus.

Or lack of it.

It seems many of the productivity experts are now saying that multi-tasking is evil (my summary with a touch of paraphrasing thrown in).

To go into a little more detail, the experts seem to agree that our brains can only handle one task at a time. When we multi-task, we expend effort switching gears from one task to another. That’s energy that could have been spent producing.

I (reluctantly) have to admit they may have a point. Frustrated and stressed (not to mention fighting a sinus infection), earlier this week I decided to forget everything else and just concentrate on doing the accounting for my brother’s estate. The deadline is at the end of June, and I don’t want to miss it. (Never mess with the courts.)

I had started a few weeks ago, putting in an hour here or there, thinking I’d just chip away at the mammoth task. That way I could keep pushing on with writing projects.

That approach got me nowhere fast. And each time I started, I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out what I had been doing when I stopped.

This week, the whole picture changed.

I made significant progress, amazing myself. Sure, there were setbacks and I had to do some work over (probably due to the sinus infection impairing my ability to do simple math).

But the point is, by focusing on one project, I got it done.

As much as I hate to admit, I may have to give up my multi-tasking ways.

Maybe what I need to do is pick a project and make it my main project, and work on it all day or until I get totally stuck. Then and only then will I switch to something else.

Or maybe not. I’m not so sure I can quit the multi-tasking habit.

Any suggestions?



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