Why You May Want to Stop Multitasking
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Have you ever considered how much of your day is spent on autopilot? You find yourself driving somewhere, lost in thought, and suddenly you arrive with little memory of how you got there! Or you left home and wondered if you locked the door, closed the garage, or turned the oven off. How about going somewhere and realizing you left your wallet at home?
If you haven’t experienced such things, live a little longer, and you will!
Many of these experiences of forgetfulness are caused by being on autopilot. Being on autopilot is a form of living without thought. Think of this as what it is, a thoughtless or mindless state. Then there are memory lapses, which every human being experiences given enough time. There appear to be plenty of memory lapses going around today from the White House to journalists and throughout society! Stress is a primary contributor to memory lapses, so this must be one stressful world!
Habits Habits support our ability to go on autopilot. Habits and many memory lapses are also connected. Often, these automatic habits help us get through the day. But sometimes, we must come off autopilot to become more present in the moment. We all need to stop and smell the roses along the way once in a while, after all!
There are many habits to be thankful for. I cannot imagine life without the habit of brushing my teeth twice a day, tracking my caloric intake, exercising, and showering daily to aid my health. I appreciate the habits I have developed of setting time aside to write every morning, eating dinner with my wife each evening, and a hundred others.
Most habits require little thinking, and this is where they can mislead you. Think about this
if you do something automatically, you are not doing it mindfully. Rather you are doing it mindlessly. Without thought! How often does this happen? Considering the numerous habits each of us has, I’d say quite a bit.
Which do you prefer, to be mindful or mindless?
A great benefit habits create in our lives is that they make routine tasks effortless over time. They can also effortlessly lead you into other habits. Sometimes these other habits are good, and sometimes they are not.
The destructive habit of multitasking Want to know something interesting about the habit-formed efforts we take each day? They are divided. Divided how? Think about a typical day at work. Sometimes you can focus on one thing, putting all your time, energy, and attention into it. What happens? You see results and either complete the task at hand or make good progress on it. Yet, how often does that really happen with the pressures and distractions so common in life and at work? The reality for most is we inevitably wind up attempting to work on more than one thing, even though some of those things do little or nothing to create the future we want! Why do we do this? It seems to be the generally accepted way people do things, doesn’t it? Society often praises multitaskers! It’s no wonder so many people develop it into a habit. But the reality is attempting to do more than one thing at a time is a scientifically proven terrible way to achieve results. Here are a few facts to consider, with substantiating links:
Multitasking can increase the number of errors you make by 50%.
Multitasking can kill your productivity.
Multitasking can make you stupid.
Multitasking damages your brain.
This is only a short list. You can find many other things harmed by multitasking; however, if these aren’t enough reasons to stop, you must be multitasking! All I can say is — STOP IT! “Multitasking is a lie.” Gary W. Keller (1957-present) It is a shame more people do not know how multitasking harms them, their lives, and their careers. Don’t Be Mindless Is it any wonder so many accomplish so little while so few accomplish so much? By simply placing your attention on doing one right thing, you can reap what you want. As you learn to focus on one thing, you reduce the clutter of unproductive activities and the frustration of working hard and seeming to get nowhere. You transition to getting more of what you want and less of what you don’t want!
“Depending on what they are, our habits will either make us or break us. We become what we repeatedly do.” Sean Covey (1964-present)
Become more mindful of your habits. Study yourself. Question the routine things you do in life. No one wants to wander through life mindlessly. By becoming curious about your habits, you can take more control of who you are and who you are becoming. With a focused lifestyle, you contribute more to your family and friends, the most important people in your life. Never forget life exists in relationships. Relationships thrive when you dedicate time to them.
Let’s end this article with a little analogy. In our yard, we have many squirrels. They keep busy much of the year building nests, mating, chasing each other, and gathering acorns.
Something I admire about these furry little creatures is their diligence. They always seem to be doing something worthwhile, whether making a place to live, propagating, having fun, or saving for the future. If you add fretting, worrying, and trying to do several things at once to a squirrel’s activities, that’s our existence!
The difference between squirrels and us is that they focus on the task at hand and do not attempt to do two or ten things simultaneously. We too often trade happiness for multitasking. That is a bad trade for anyone.
Let’s make life meaningful and worthwhile. Be like the squirrel — enjoy life and gather plenty of acorns along the way!
Final thoughts Why not begin working on some of your habits, especially those that involve attempting to do more than one thing at a time? The purpose of doing this is so you can learn to focus on one thing intensely.
While you’re at it, why not think of someone who can help you build accountability for the process? Find a colleague, boss, friend, acquaintance, or spouse with whom you can openly discuss how you are doing each week.
Sharing your plan with someone will greatly enhance your ability to achieve results. In asking for accountability, the success you enjoy will be, without a doubt, considerable. Give it a try. You have nothing to lose besides bad habits and everything to gain!
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