Let’s talk about multi-tasking.
As women, we’re supposed to be masters at it. As mothers, especially, we boast of both the need for and our ability to excel at it. We juggle more balls than a circus clown, and we do it with panache!
I think multi-tasking is overrated.
And I’ll be keeping my working mom card, thank you very much.
Sure, there are times when it is necessary to do multiple things at once. I can make dinner and dessert simultaneously. I can clean up my kitchen in between changing over the laundry. I can hold a conversation with a four year old and a nine year old and a telemarketer at the exact same time, and catch nearly all of the details.
Yes. I can get more than one thing done at once.
But, I can’t excel at anything if I’m giving it less than my full attention.
I’ve stopped multi-tasking at work as much as possible, and I’ve found that it’s made me much more productive. Surprisingly, I seem to get more done in less time, with better results. Focusing all of my attention and abilities on doing one task well - and only then moving on to the next task - allows me to get both tasks done much more quickly.
Not multi-tasking lets me get into The Flow.
You know about The Flow, right? That experience when all systems are firing perfectly, your brain is humming, and you’re zooming along at top effectiveness? Getting into The Flow is only possible when you eliminate distractions - even the distractions of other necessary tasks. The Flow is what lets you work more efficiently.
Even Wikipedia acknowledges the power of The Flow - so you know it’s a big deal.
(See also: in the zone, on the ball or in the groove)
I’ve also started toning down the multi-tasking craziness at home. I don’t really care if I excel at laundry. But I do want to make sure I allow my children to experience my full attention on a regular basis. I want to be able to get into The Flow as a parent - and the best way to do that is to make a point of focusing on nothing but being a parent sometimes.
Do you believe in the power of The Flow? Have you ever tried not multi-tasking, either at work or at home?
Photo courtesy of Kaibara87 on FlickR.