Nov
27

2013

Q&A Wednesday: Why is multitasking so hard to do?



Welcome to Q&A Wednesday on KWaK!

This week, we are talking about multitasking, and how our attempts to ‘do it all’ can become really crazy.  We asked life coach Fiona Craig:

If multitasking is supposed to make our lives easier, why is it so hard to do?


fiona craig“I love multitasking because I think I’m being really clever juggling a number of tasks at once.  For example, while writing my blog I would have the TV on, Facebook flicking, kicking Buddy’s ball, and in the kitchen- pasta’s boiling on the stove. All was going well until I forgot about the pasta cooking.  The pot boiled dry, and the burning pasta caused the smoke alarm to go off. Oops!! I guess in the long run you cannot complete multiple tasks effectively or efficiently.

So having burnt my second pot in six months, my life balance tip to you is to do one thing at a time, and be fully present while doing it

You will find that you can get more done as opposed to switching back and forth between tasks.  Why?  It’s because our brains must adjust to the new task so we waste time in picking up from where we left off. 

To avoid burning my last good pot, I’m practicing MULTITASKING MINDFULNESS.

Mindfulness means paying conscious attention to the experience we are having in the present moment, and to do so non-judgmentally.  This increases our awareness, and acceptance of our present-moment experience or reality.  So the best way to explain what multitasking mindfulness means to me, is to choose how I control my focus and where I pay most attention.

Have you ever driven home and wondered how you got there?  The car seemed to be driving you and not the other way around.  It’s because our mind is miles away thinking about dinner, where I’ll get dinner, oh god I have to walk the dog, etc.  But if I’m fully present driving the car with all my senses, i.e. body sensations, thoughts and feelings then I’m fully in control and in the moment.  Such as feeling the wind on my face, listening to the sounds of the street or the radio, noticing the people in the cars or on the sidewalk. 

So it’s the same with multitasking.  When we notice ourselves doing, thinking or feeling twenty things swimming around our head all at once then the first step is to be aware of it so it has our attention.  The next step is to be gentle on our selves, (not beat ourselves up for over multitasking) and bring our awareness back to the one task. 

We all multitask.  It’s virtually impossible to be fully centered on one activity.  Whilst I’m typing this to you I notice my attention to my son on the couch.  He’s home with a cold.  It’s 7.56am and my mind is racing with thoughts of breakfast and walking the dog but I stop my mind now and am back with you and keep typing.  So the trick is to bring our attention back to the task or activity when we notice the sensations or impulses to do other things occurs.

For example, I create all my Facebook picture quotes Sunday evening, and then schedule them for the week ahead.  Working this way I complete my tasks quickly and efficiently, and add about 20 minutes to my evening.

Trust the work-life balance research out there.  Multitasking has proven to be inefficient because it takes more time to do many tasks at once, as opposed to, doing a task at a time.”

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Life Balance Coach Fiona Craig is a Gestalt trained life coach, psychotherapist, writer, speaker, and busy mum who takes her work seriously, but not her self.  Her goal is to help all women achieve a better balance between meeting their needs and the needs of others through her personal, career and wellness coaching.  In combining Gestalt theory with life coaching, Fiona takes a whole person approach to assisting her clients in finding ways to live a more balanced life. You can visit her website, and check her out on Facebook!