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Multitasking and the forgotten glue

Energy is expended when we make course corrections.

There’s a huge myth regarding multitasking.  Many believe multitasking is a near magical ability to get more done; they believe that they have the ability to do two or more things at once –  thus cheating the system.  It makes anyone who can do this more valuable, perhaps even more important, they believe.  Surely anyone in management, in high pressure positions, top performers – all of these are intense multitaskers performing two, three even four things at the same time.

The truth is that each time you have to switch gears from one task to another you expend energy.  Mentally and or emotionally switching gears has a cost. That energy adds up, and can and will subtract from the energy available to perform the actual tasks.  In most cases it also adds time.  Imagine a multitasker delivering a pizza, convinced at their ability to be master of time and space.  They are to deliver the pizza and they decide to text their spouse about arranging a party.  They discuss the planning, and the date and the guests.  It’s a lot of back and forth and since they don’t want to die and are unsure of the location, they only text while stopped.  Because of this they get beeped at by a driver behind them more than once, as they were trying to finish a sentence at a stoplight and it has turned green.   Then they get beeped at again.  Just let me finish this, oh fine.  They drive off, but are thinking about the point they were trying to make.  They miss a turn, but it’s not a big deal because they can just take the next one.

They get to the destination and finally they have the time to finish this conversation.  Just a few back and forths, and we can run the pizza up to the house. Conversation has mostly ended, though there are a few things but they better get this pizza out.  They do, and it’s cold.  They lost track of time trying to do both, and the conversation ended up being sort of convoluted and not clear, since she rushed more than once with all the impatient drivers behind her.

Notice how I didn’t combine driving with a simple phone call.  I am talking about combining two meaningful tasks that require true attention.  And I didn’t want anyone to crash.  Obviously, a part of Alchemy For Life is all about a form of overlap that could be considered multitasking.   It is applied carefully when the two items are using the same kind of thought patterns, or it combines a major task with a lesser “autopilot” task.  Examples of this are folding laundry while watching guilty pleasure TV, dusting while on a conference call, learning a new skill by reading a book while waiting for your daughter at an event.  These items do not include texting while driving, helping your son with homework while reading an email, or having an intense discussion about your relationship while doing your taxes.  Folly, pure folly I say unto you!

Alchemy includes course corrections

When you understand what Alchemy For life is about, and you work in the Balance Sheet, you see that these course corrections are considered.   You find that energy is returned that you didn’t think was being expended.  Also, it’s not just the time being spent on a task you reduce or remove, its also the energy between the tasks. It’s the glue holding the multitasking together.

Next time you try to multitask, don’t just consider the time, energy and resources you think you might save, consider the glue holding the multitasking together.  Picture yourself pouring some of your flask’s liquid into task number one, then some into task number two AND a little to maintain them both at the same time.  If you don’t have enough energy to afford that, or you choose two tasks that are not a good fit (two major tasks for example) it could cost you more than it’s worth.  Both tasks will be done poorly.  If the point of multitasking for you is to be a mover and shaker that accomplishes a lot of excellent work, you’ll end up doing the opposite.

Consider the glue.  Consider the kind of tasks you are combining.  Then consider moving and or shaking.

If you’d like to move and or shake at the same time that you do a bunch of other things, consider the above. Moving forward, consider how Alchemy For Life might help you in that pursuit.  I’ll be here.

 

About Mark Bradford

Mark Bradford developed a system to recover time, energy and resources in your life called Alchemy For Life. He write, coaches and speaks on the subject. For more information, tips and tricks, like Alchemy For Life on Facebook, follow Alchemy For Life on Twitter. Articles are posted regularly on AlchemyFor.Life, and LinkedIn.