I’m an inveterate multitasker. At work, more often than I’d like, I end up eating lunch in front of my computer. After work, it’s not unusual for my laptop to be open while my smartphone is in hand and a movie plays in the background.
And I’m not alone: multitasking is endemic to the Internet Age. How many of you are working or surfing the internet while eating breakfast, watching TV, or in a meeting?
This past week, I decided to set myself a challenge: stop multitasking. At the beginning of the week, I focused on two types of multitasking in particular – eating while using my computer, and using more than 1 electronic device (computer, smartphone, TV) at a time. But I also started paying attention to other ways I was multitasking and tried to cut those out. For instance, I found myself tempted to catch up on correspondence or get other work done while in meetings.
So how’d the week go?
Eliminating multitasking while eating was the best part. Taking a real lunch at work gave me a chance to catch up with colleagues and then get back to work feeling a little bit refreshed. I also wasn’t mindlessly snacking – because if I did grab a snack, I knew I had to step away from whatever I was doing. I enjoyed catching up with my husband over dinner every night. Some mornings we hung out during breakfast, but that usually wrapped up quickly, and I missed my morning routine of checking email and reading blogs. But I didn’t miss getting caught up in work before I headed out for the day!
My reduced use of the computer at night was a good thing overall – I got to bed earlier and felt like I had relaxed a bit more. I didn’t get caught up in late-night nothingness (like mindless internet surfing) at all this week. But I missed being able to sort through photos or catch up with online friends while watching a silly movie. And somehow, having something in the background makes it easier to tackle things like blog posts. I haven’t put up a post since last Saturday! :(
I was more mentally present in meetings, which was a good thing. But the amount of time I spent in meetings felt more oppressive, and I wanted to get a lot more work done. This week was trickier because I actually did have more meetings and less uninterrupted time than usual.
The big thing was that I was more aware of what I was doing – and not doing – this week. Going forward, I’ll go back to some multitasking but try to be more conscious in deciding when to multitask – rather than just falling into the habit of doing it!
When do you find yourself multitasking?
- Is multi-tasking bad for your brain? Experts reveal the hidden perils of juggling too many jobs from The Daily Mail
- Multitasking: Good Or Bad? from Forbes