Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Perils of Multitasking

Nervous and apologetic , she was almost trembling as she spoke while scanning the room with her eyes.  I don’t think she was aware of how obvious it was.  She fumbled into her purse looking frantically for her keys while continuing with the conversation and scanning the room.  She stood up ready for us to leave and I was a bit worried that she might trip over something.  In fact, as distracted as she seemed, she warned me about the waiter who was coming my way.  I left her feeling exhausted and glad to be by myself wondering how she really felt.

This is the portrait of an extreme multi-tasker.  Her nervousness was probably part of her personality, but the distraction and lack of focus, yet total focus on everything else are what extreme multi-taskers are all about. They tend to over-commit and won’t say no to anyone.  They stay up into all hours of the night to get the job done.  They are a boss’s delight.  They keep their family’s appointments and make sure everyone’s needs are met.  They tend to neglect their own needs and desires.  With time, they forget they have any.

An extreme multi-tasker is on a path of self-destruction.  The destruction takes the form of a health crisis, failure of her marriage, or an accident.  Some use this time-out to regroup and change their ways, some don’t know how, so even though, their intentions are to change, they fall back into their old ways.  And some don’t know that anything needs to change at all, so they carry on as usual.
Extreme multi-taskers live life as if they have to cook Thanksgiving dinner for 20 all by themselves 24/7 every day.   Even the  calm multi-taskers become victims of stress, distraction and even alienation from others.  After all, who wants to be around someone who is always looking around for something else to do or take care of, and ignore the person they happen to be with.

Multitasking has become such a norm that if you do not admit that you are doing it, you are looked upon as lazy, incompetent, slow, or stupid.  The truth is no one is really multitasking.  If you zoom into what is actually happening, you will see that any one person can only do one thing at a time.  You may have many pots on the stove’s burners but at any one time, your attention is only on one pot.
I am all for the spirit of multitasking.  That means, I am all for preparing Thanksgiving dinner for 20 by myself, but I am not fooled into thinking that I can have all 4 burners going at once with the turkey in one oven and a pie in the other while making a salad and serving drinks.  That is not happening and cannot happen without something burning, getting over cooked, under cooked, or missing an ingredient!  You’ve heard of the texting while driving phenomenon, that’s a perfect example of why multitasking doesn’t work. 

So, why do we multitask?  We are expected to, we think we can, there’s a lot to do, others do it and so can we, etc.
Questions to Ponder:

1)    When and why do you multitask?  Does it work for you?  Has it ever not worked?
2)    Do you feel like you are giving a task or a project sufficient attention when you are multitasking?  Do you ever worry about the things you may have over looked?
3)    Do you wish you didn’t have to multitask?  If you didn’t have to, what would your life or work be like?

If you are stressed out by all the demands of your life and feel like you cannot multitask any more without crashing out, you may want to talk to a spiritual life coachSpiritual life coaching is a process where you, the client is in the driver’s seat at all times, determining where you’d like to go focusing on the goal you share with your spiritual life coach, CHANGE.  If you’d like to talk this over with me, please contact me.

No comments: