Multitasking. A constant push to Do More, Do Better, Do Faster. In Part 1, I hit on a few things… Our rigorous society, juggling to deal with busyness and the problems with “multitasking” – most notably losing incredible amounts of mental time each day switching between tasks and the stratification of our attention that leads to likely inferior results. Here goes Part 2 with some of my own insights.
They say that “only boring people get bored.” Well, I will champion that. I am truly not boring because I never run out of things to do, or think about. My brain doesn’t turn off, and that propels me forward. To fit everything in, I have to even schedule casual solo activities – yoga, salt bath, meditation – to ensure they don’t get overtaken.
I have been optimizing and maximizing my time for as long as I can remember. I have had an internal drive to achieve from a young age. Striving in school. Striving in work. Striving in relationships. Striving in health… I’ve accomplished a lot in my 33 years, and I’m pretty darn blessed and happy. But at some point, I think us go-getters want to throw our hands up and say, “Am I not doing enough? Am I not doing it good enough?”
The answer surely can be YES. At some point, we are proficient and are performing very well. The problem is the actual load. Frankly, there must be a threshold where you cannot bear any additional responsibilities. In nutrition terms, your plate is full. So we have to turn our cause from optimizing and maximizing instead to prioritizing and saying NO.
Changes I Made
I have to explore this complex issue of multitasking without having an exact roadmap for folks. Being highly aware of my situation and hellbent on changing what I think is unhealthy, these were answers for me…
1) Lessen The Pressure
I vowed to stop people pleasing. I know I cannot satisfy everyone. I know this for sure. So I stopped trying. I remind myself that if I make the best decisions with the information at hand, I will always have an explanation for my actions. I also fortify with my love of communication and my comfort with conflict. Others, bring on your questions and feelings; I am ready to defend my choices!
2) Temper The Toughest Critic
I vowed to quit the negative self-talk. As you may have guessed, my loudest Peanut Gallery member is ME. As a literal and figurative project manager, I have much control over my own goals and deadlines. So why am I freaking out? Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond. Now, I use a positive pep talk or mantra when needed to generally chill and convince my inner self that everything will be okay. The worst case scenario is usually not that bad.
3) Add Weekly Structure
I vowed to silo out certain days of my week for certain types of activities. For instance… Making one day a “meeting day,” where I schedule all of my meetings. So I am not running around town on the daily and then wondering why I do not have time left to get solid work done. Or, carving out one day for a particular client project, especially website development, where I could use a consecutive 6-8 hours of devoted, focused time in-the-zone on a singular task. Experts agree – Working in batches means getting more done.
4) Create Realistic To-Do Lists
I vowed to limit the number of items I put on each day’s to-do list. I pick my top 1, 2 or 3 things that must get done, or move me forward the most, or bring me the most joy. I’ve heard the Optimist’s problem is always underestimating how much time a task will take. We are just so hopeful about doing it quickly. It often does not go that way. So I basically instated a rule that allows for fewer items and more time to complete each.
5) Account for Flexibility
I vowed two fold… To build flexibility into my schedule structure. And to be more adaptable to deviations within the structure. I need brain food – learning, ideas, people – and room to adjust. This looks like putting actual blocks on my calendar for READ / RESEARCH / INSPIRATION. If I don’t carve out an hour for these kinds of activities here and there, they will routinely be schluffed. Per #4, this also looks like me reserving miscellaneous time in the day for rabbit holes – to handle mishaps and to not bark at someone because they stopped by my office to chat.
Nature’s perfect example of Structure and Adaptability… A tree.