Breaking the bad multi tasking habit

I once considered myself a consumate multi tasker. I could talk on the phone, have 3 chat windows going, be working on a presentation and filing an expense report all at the same time. I thought that multi tasking made me more productive.
Over the past few years I’ve had the nagging feeling that I was lying to myself. This state of continous partial attention had some hidden costs. I recognized the switching costs first: every time I switch from one task to the other I have to do a little mental reset. The time it takes for these varies, but it does take time. When I added up all those little slices of time to reboot, I realized I could fit in another whole task or two.
Much more recently, I’ve come across a more insidious cost to multi tasking: it allows (maybe even encourages) me to avoid hard work.  When I was multitasking, any time I would hit a snag or a roadblock, I’d immediately switch to another task. I’m not advocating banging your head against the wall when you’re stuck, but giving up at the least bit of resistance eliminates the opportunity to think on something deeply, to become comfortable withe the discomfort and to get to the next level of creativity.
So what’s replaced multitasking for me?  A combination of acting with intent, focusing on one thing at a time and an adpatation of the pomodoro method with blocking distraction with music. I set my intentions for each day by visualizing what success looks like while reviewing my calendar, to dos and notes.  Then I set a time block to work on each task. Last, I pick an album or maybe even just a song on repeat that is close to the time block I want to work. Headphones on, press play and watch the work roll out. One thing at a time.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *