Why I Don’t Multi-task Anymore

OK, maybe that statement is not completely true, but on the whole I try not to, which is a far cry from where I used to be – the queen of multi-tasking. Ask anyone that knew me, I had my finger in many pies, plates spinning, the whole caboodle. I used to eat lunch at my desk, have multiple coaching calls through my lunch break for a programme I did outside of work and then get on with my day job straight after. My desktop had lots of windows open and the end result meant that whilst I had started almost everything that needed to be done, I had completed very little. And, there was always something to do after work, even if ‘after work’ started at 9pm. It seemed never-ending and to top it off it was something I was very proud of being able to do.

Being a solopreneur makes things worse, there is always that constant nagging voice which tells you that you must make use of every available minute and the best way to do that is to multi-task. However just over a month ago I started a new 14-day eating plan and it made me look at life differently. One of the rules was to spend at least 15 minutes eating your food, so no wolfing it down like I usually do! I found I was having to pay mindful attention to something that I didn’t usually think about and just that very act brought mindfulness to other areas of my life. I felt more grounded and peaceful taking time over my meals. If I had lunch at my desk, I stopped work and all I did was eat my lunch. I didn’t even browse on the internet or check out any social networking sites. So you may think ‘why is she talking about diets and food?’ but bear with me.

What I started to realise was what a noisy world my head was in. There were very few things that had my focused attention and it had become my default modus operandi – all I could do was multi-task… and isn’t that what gives women an edge over men? So I decided to try something different with my approach to work and that was to take just one thing and do that, fully, completely for as long as I said I would, no distractions. I liked it. I realised that the most productive approach wasn’t to be doing multiple things at the same time, and often things got done quicker and to a better standard when I did one thing at a time. This might be stating the bloody obvious but it hadn’t been to me.

I can tell you that the difference has been amazing. I don’t feel so stressed out or buzzy (that feeling when you’re running on adrenaline the whole time) and I look better too (less stress does that to you!). I find I schedule things in much more realistically and it has kept me so much more focussed. It also has improved my relationships with people as I actually spend more time listening to them rather than the thoughts in my head! I do still read books and do some bits of work when commuting and there are times when I sit in front of the TV with my laptop or smart phone in hand but apart from filling dead time, I just find it better to do one thing a time.

I’m not saying multi-tasking is bad per se, but consider whether it is all that it is cracked up to be. What are your thoughts on this?

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4 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Multi-task Anymore

  1. David says:

    Hi Sufiya, I really like what you say about Mindful eating. It takes a bit of getting used to because I really get to see how my mind loves to buzz about rather than focus on the nourishment I’m providing my body. Have you read any David Rock? His book Your Mind At Work is excellent and shows the Scientific studies that demonstrate that multitasking seriously degrades the quality of your work. Regards David

    • Sufiya says:

      Hi David, thanks for the comment. I think mindful eating has really transformed my life the past couple of months and I find it very hard to eat anything that isn’t nutritious or nourishing these days! The positive knock-on effect on my energy levels and ability to get on with other things in my life helps me stick to thise routine. I haven’t read any David Rock but will definitely have a look at his work soon, so thanks for the recommendation.

  2. panoptika says:

    Taking care of yourself might seem selfish at first, but successful entrepreneurs tell us that being able to prioritize, think strategically, and manage stress are vital! Thanks for sharing your discovery.

    • Sufiya says:

      Thanks for the comment and glad to have shared the experience. There’s also a lot of psychological research about whether the brain can truly multi-task. There are arguments for and against but my persnal experience has been that life feels better when I’m not 🙂

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