Are you a proud multitasker or a single tasker?

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"I am an efficient multi-tasker. I can juggle housework, minding the kids with their homework after I return from my work. After all I got just so less time in the day", said my friend very proudly. 

She is a mother of two, successful in her corporate career at a mid-management level and a social media enthusiast. As per her, she always wanted to explore a lot of hobbies, travel, and achieve a lot of success in her career. And she grew good at multi-tasking since she had to balance all those aspirations plus the home front. I would always be amazed at how she managed to keep the kids engaged and to-date with their studies while handling her own learning and job while managing her husband’s frequent work travels. 

But the bubble burst in some years. She stepped out of her 15year old career to take a sabbatical. She came to me for a coaching session and mentioned how tired and foggy she was feeling. In her own words, once an active planner and organizer, she felt she had no clarity for her path forward. Though she has managed her home, family, and her schedule requirements, she feels hollow inside not knowing what will fill that gap. Something was amiss!

What is multitasking?

Simply put, multitasking is doing more than one task at a time. With the advent of the internet, technology, and globalization has taken over, everyone is proud of being able to multitask. In fact, multitasking has integrated into the basic fabric of our life. Multi-tasking has been advertised as a super-power!!! Marketing Ads portray women who multitask as Super-Woman, Super Mothers, Super Achievers.   

Somehow the onus of balancing the house and self falls on the lady of the house when she decides to pursue a career for herself. But does multitasking really provide that perfect solution? Did you know that we are not even multi-tasking, we are in fact task-switching. 

Multi-tasking creates a feeling of 

  1. being busy 
  2.  doing a lot of work 
  3.  being efficient and productive 
  4.  being able to switch through different tasks /activities easily 
  5.   not getting bored as you work on varied tasks 
  6.  Being adaptable 
  7. Saving time 

What multitasking actually causes? 

1. Split attention or being distracted 

2️. Unable to enjoy and experience the task in hand 

3️. Attention-deficit or short attention span 

4️. Mental Fatigue, Anxiety, Stress 

5️. The feeling of none of the tasks being completed 

6‍. May lower efficiency 

7‍. Become mechanical 

8‍. Misplaced priorities 

9‍.  Working to tick off items from the list rather than experiencing the process 

  1. Forgetfulness 

So how do we remedy this?

I suggested her to take each day as it comes, give herself some time to absorb the experience of things around her. Bring her full energy and being to the task at hand.

She has been breezing through her life which gave her a temporary high. To instil the permanent feeling of achievement, she has to bring some stillness into her life. My suggestion was to switch her multi-tasking habit to single-tasking for as many activities as possible. So she doesn’t take calls while she is having her meals. Focus and savour the food on her plate, see how it looks, feel how the texture is of the food and how it tastes when she chews every morsel. This was just one of the changes suggested to her. She had to take this process of mindful single-tasking to other areas of her life too.

In the next 3 months, I saw her vibrant self. She mentioned it helped her a lot to stop parallel activities and engage in the tasks she picked up. She started feeling more fulfilled and satisfied, and her focus returned. Her quality of sleep got better and her concentration improved. Her fatigue reduced as she reduced task switching.

Single-tasking brings 

1️.  all your focus, attention to the task in hand 

2. brings in total awareness 

3️. the feeling of peace, joy, and equanimity 

4. the feeling of immersiveness 

5️. a better understanding of the task or activity 

6. productivity 

7. boosts the creative faculties 

8️. the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment 

9. mindfulness 

Recently in my social media, I came across this tip to work in a focused manner. I loved it and trying to put it into practice for myself. Keep a timer, say 20-30mins, to finish one task at a time. Take a break and put on the timer for the next task. That way one can create time blocks for themselves, relax and rejuvenate between tasks and then get going with the next one. One doesn’t need to keep working- one task after another. This helps profoundly in centring oneself in one task completely, bringing your mind to a neutral state and then moving onto the next one. Do give it a try and let me know if it works for you too. 

I also understand that multi-tasking is indispensable in our modern worlds. Though whenever an opportunity presents itself, take that dive into single-tasking and experience the benefits of feminine energies of immersiveness. The feminine energies of immersiveness can also be called savouring every moment, be it work or life. It is important to feel your being and is not only about doing and finishing the tasks. Our brain is not meant for multi-tasking but still, it supports well by switching on and off, thereby giving an illusion of multitasking. How far you want to stretch that capability, is the question? 

If you observed, our parent’s generation retired from the same organisation they started their careers in. But look around us today- there is so much angst, mental and emotional fatigue. There is no satisfaction. The race is to hop jobs hoping one will feel better and have better prospects in the next job. Somewhere the misalignment within ourselves reflects in the dissatisfaction in the work we do. There is no wholesome, heartful engagement and we are running by the clock. 

So are you a proud multitasker or do you want to pause and savour the present? Would like to know your views about this. 

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