The real problem with multitasking is that we believe in it

A usual morning- you are tying a shoelace, preparing a sandwich, putting on lipstick and making an excuse in your head as to why you are 10 minutes late for a meeting, while the man of the house is  in his safe place- the bathroom. Many women refer to multitasking as our superpower, but I believe that multitasking doesn’t make us stronger, on the contrary, when it comes to success it withholds us on a personal and social level.

Over the past years, there has been plenty of research regarding multitasking and the common denominator between them is that they have all refuted this ability to both men as well as women. The price we pay for multitasking is twice as high- we spend more time trying to complete the tasks we are doing  (our brain requires about 15 minutes to process new tasks). And in addition the result is of poorer quality.

Do you still believe you are a savvy multitasker? Try watching a television show while you are texting and at the end of the show summarize what you’ve just seen. Most chances are that you will miss out. A lot. And what is true for TV is true for your life.

Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hour rule” states that ten thousands hours are required in order to become a master or an expert in one thing. One thing, yes? I believe there is a connection between this given and the fact that multitasking clears the way for men to excel.

In order to do something, really and truly well, we need time and focus. And yes, our modern life does require some level of juggling. But when you do many things at the exact same time and do not give any of them your full attention. There is a price.

Throughout history the system has enabled men exactly this, to be free of their commitments to their children and of their households and mostly be free of the emotional investments both of these require and to therefore be able to focus on moving up the corporate ladder. Not that this hasn’t created other problems for them and for society, but we can learn from this that being focused on a certain task brings results.

How to we start focusing?

There are plenty of time management apps and programs, I admit that I still haven’t found one that works for me, but it never hurts to try and find one that works for you.

Here are 3 ideas that I do find as effective:

  1. Grouping together similar tasks. For example setting up meetings one after the other or answering email consecutively. Why? Because or brain gets focused on a certain type of work and the work becomes more effective.
  2. Try to match the type of work to the energy you are feeling- if you are feeling creative for example, it may be a great time to write a post that you have been trying to write for the past month (full disclosure), however if you have no energy to get out of bed there are still tasks that need to be completed and might be a better match such us creating invoices (full disclosure 2). It’s true that this isn’t always possible, but a lot of the time we have much more flexibility and freedom that what we allow ourselves to feel.
  3. As always- my favorite- awareness. Start be making yourself aware by writing down for let’s say 3 days, how much time you spend on social media. When you discover that this adds up to 3 hours per day, you will be able to decide what you want to do about this. And this is true for anything you do. The next time you stop in the middle of something you are doing, perhaps you will remember this post and go back to finish your original task before you open a new tab in your browser or your mind.

Whether your focus now is on a work project or planning your dad’s 70th birthday, make sure that you leave enough time for that thing that is currently your top priority. You full undivided attention is your superpower.

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