Once upon a time I was a huge multi-tasker, especially at my corporate job. I reminded myself of an octopus, one hand reaching for this. Another typing that. Then I was talking to one person on the phone, another in my office, making a note about another meeting, and answering an email.
I was forever putting out fires, correcting problems, and fixing complaints.
Then I read this interesting study that said when you’re multi-tasking, you’re not doing anything well. Instead, you’re doing a lot of things half-assed. Not their words, of course.
I initially disagreed with the study, but then I thought about my most important job – writing. I write without distractions. I don’t listen to music. I don’t have anything on in the background. My entire focus is on the screen in front of me. I minimize any computer distractions, too. I don’t have any notifications turned on. I go radio silent on everything – except for the software I use for my manuscripts.
So, I changed my attitude about work. I designated a certain hour to answer emails. Another hour for open door sessions. I made it known that 9 -11 was production time for me, so you couldn’t knock on my door (my boss was the only exception, of course).
I was shocked by how much I got done. Plus, I wasn’t putting out many fires at all because I had time to see problems developing rather than after they happened. I was a believer. To this day it’s how I handle my life.
Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed, I back off, retreat, and look at what I’m doing. Nine times out of ten I’m trying to multi-task again and making a mess of everything. I designate certain hours for certain tasks – which, I admit, is counter-intuitive to me. I guess I think I’m Super Woman and I can do everything all at once, all the time. When I forget that I’m not is when I make a mess of things.
How about you? How do you feel about multi-tasking? Do you handle it better than I do?