Multi-tasking has been turned into some kind of goal for people, and something to brag about, but I’ve always had a bad feeling about it, even though I run three different businesses myself and have five blogs to keep up with. 🙂
Emma Monro over on Google+ asked a really good question the other day, and it follows on to something I saw on the television before that about how our brains work.
Recent research indicates that our brains work best on one thing at a time. Inevitable compromises occur when we try to multi-task. So all this bragging about multi-tasking abilities is really nonsense. The ones who can set boundaries, as Emma pointed out, will get more and better done in the long run.
Sources for this obsession with multi-tasking from my brain’s social science section: Might have been social expectations caused in part by
a) women moving into the workforce and still trying to do all the at-home stuff;
b) the “M-TV editing” effect in the 1980s that created expectations of rapidly shifting focus from one image to another, which was then reinforced by the way electronic tools like mobile devices and computers work, trying to con us into thinking we can do more, buy more to do more with, etc.;
c) companies putting more and varied tasks on fewer workers to save on employment costs.
All of these social shifts have created a “value” around multi-tasking. Since we’re stuck with it, so to speak, we make it into a virtue. And it’s still not one. Just an excuse to overburden people with overwhelming expectations.
So, please resist! Set boundaries! Check email/phone three times a day instead of thirty (very hard for me!). Real quality productivity will actually go up, I promise.
And you might actually have more time for surfing Pinterest pictures or taking a walk in the neighborhood later. 🙂