Why Multi-tasking is a Multi-fail
"Multi-tasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time", according to Steve Uzzell.
I'm guilty of multi-tasking. Brought up in an era and by a mother who prided herself on her multi-tasking ability, I always thought the more I could do at once the better. Turns out I was wrong. Not only is multi-tasking inefficient, your chance of making a mistake or messing things up increases.
As humans we were not created with the ability to successfully multi-task. Our brain, whilst complex and magnificent, has a limit on what it is able to properly process simultaneously. Whilst we all know we have the ability to do more than one thing at a time e.g. I can stand on one leg while brushing my teeth and count to 100 in my head...what we need to consider is at what accuracy is each task being done? I'm sure everyone has said at some point or another, "oh I could do that with me eyes closed" because it's true, the more we practice something or commit it to memory as a habit, the easier it becomes to do and the less thought involved.
But who can also claim to have driven their usual route from the shops back to their home and upon arriving not be able to recall 'consciously' being aware of the landmarks they passed en route? This is the downside of multi-tasking. Whilst you may be able to do it, so to speak, really your brain is prioritising which will naturally detract energy from one or more of the tasks you are doing simultaneously. In the case of driving or doing something else where your safety is at risk, this can in fact be very dangerous. Hence it's illegal to use your mobile phone while driving.
Many of us will try to argue to benefits of multi-tasking or the fact they are confident that nothing will be jeopardised by doing more than one complex task at once, but the truth of the matter is that it will be. There are studies and exercises proving this and it's time that as a society we acknowledge that multi-tasking is not a strength or applaudable trait. In this time of rising awareness, mindfulness is the answer to shifting out of our multi-tasking mindset. By doing one task at a time, mindfully, although you may feel you are doing less, it has been proven to be a more effective and efficient way to operate. Not only does the task get your undivided attention, but it will likely be executed with more precision and care.
This even goes for those busy mums out there, yes there will be times when multi-tasking is unavoidable, when you simply need to get out the door and to school drop off in the morning, but children are our best gauge on how well we are practicing mindfulness. If you are not giving them your undivided attention, they will be sure to let you know. And let's be honest, sometimes all it has to be is 10 minutes of quality listening that they want before they go on their merry way, but if you are pretending to listen while preparing dinner, they know they don't have your full attention and will begin to resent you for this.
Some food for thought...how is multi-tasking negatively impacting your life and how will you begin to make some changes to being more mindful today?!