The Myth of Multi-Tasking

I have a weakness. Okay, okay. All right. I have more than one weakness. But, the one I deal with quite regularly is my lack of multi-tasking ability. It’s not that I don’t try to juggle many tasks at once. It’s just that I am not all that effective when I try to perform multiple tasks simultaneously.

Take last night for example.

My boyfriend, Jonathan, came over for supper. When he walked in, I was juggling two different pots on the stove, a pan in the oven and a bowl in the microwave. I was trying to make sure everything was hot and ready around the same time so that the meal would be complete. I was also thinking about how I had not yet washed the grapes that would accompany our pasta dinner.

Being the considerate man that he is, upon walking in, Jonathan made sure to ask me about my day. I love when he does that. It shows that he cares and he wants to touch base to catch up. Except, when I’m cooking dinner, I struggle to come up with answers to the questions. All I can think about is making sure everything turns out just right.

I have to admit that I don’t just struggle with multi-tasking while cooking. While doing just about anything, I struggle to do something else at the same time. Or maybe it’s  just that I struggle to talk while doing other things. I’m not quite sure…

My friends often give me a hard time for being like a dog that sees a squirrel. As soon as someone else says something to get my attention, my focus completely shifts and I forget about my previous conversation. Yet, sometimes, I can be so engrossed in the current conversation that when someone or something else is trying to get my attention I don’t even notice. All I know is that having two conversations at once does not work for me. My brain just cannot handle it.

It’s funny because I used to think I was a good multi-tasker. As a teenager I even prided myself on it. What I realize now, however, is that I probably was not actually multi-tasking. I was likely working in small spurts on one thing before jumping over to something else, then going back and forth. It was all about big bursts of energy and focus for small periods of time instead of truly focusing on multiple things for any length of time.

I have said since I started working my new job that I am glad I do not work somewhere with a cubicle. So many people in one place could be too much for me to handle. Instead, I have a nice little office that’s back in a corner, hidden from the world. When my coworkers go to the kitchenette outside my door to make coffee, I have some interaction with them, but for the most part, I have peace and quiet to work, work, work. I love it.

Being a talker, I like interaction, but in order to be productive, I have to pull myself away and pound out the keyboard. I can be hyper-focused when I am alone, so it all works out.

All this is to say that I think multi-tasking is a myth. It does not work for me. I’ve found that it’s more beneficial to just focus on one thing before moving on to the next. That’s where the real, solid work happens for me.

This Psychology Today article seems to back up my thoughts on multi-tasking.

How about you? What do you think about multi-tasking? Are you more productive when you do multiple things at once?

Let me know in the comments below!

Thank you for reading.


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