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Pause Gem #31 – Should You Unitask Or Multitask?

UniTasking-wReflection & Action: A business man races through the Denver airport towing his roller board suitcase with one hand – briefcase and coat balanced precariously on top. His ‘free’ hand, held near one ear, grips boarding card and cell phone. Deep in phone conversation and all but oblivious to his surroundings, he steps onto an ‘up’ escalator that, instead of taking him down one floor, dumps him back where he started.

The mind-racing, self professed ‘Efficiency Queen’ confesses to blurting out this phrase in the heat of an intimate moment with her husband: “Man, those bagels are sure going to taste good in the morning!”

A frenzied mother tells her teenage daughter to take her dinner plate to the counter and eat standing up so that the girl can empty the dishwasher and finish dinner at the same time.

Three real people. Three real events. All three actions share one belief – that it’s a waste of time to do only one thing at once. Multitasking rules!

There are times when multitasking does make sense. There are times when it does not. In fact, there are times when doing many things at the same time can be downright hazardous to your safety, your relationships, and your sanity.

The key is to become more conscious about your actions and the impact of your behavior. Pick and choose the moments when you split your concentration. Recognize the value in being able to focus on just one thing – or just one person – to the exclusion of others. Unitasking is sometimes the wisest choice of all.


Quote Of The Week: “Maintaining a complicated life is a great way to avoid changing it.” – Elaine St. James


Readers Write: KD writes: It does work to stop and take two or three more seconds to connect with the person you are with in a more focused way. I tried it this morning with a frustrated customer. We ended up having a good laugh. He shook my hand and when he went to leave said, “I finally found someone who seems to care about my situation.

JB writes: My favorite pause moments occur when I tuck my son into bed at night and he reads me a bedtime story. He is in grade three and has really developed a love for reading. We have invested in a series of simple chapter books that he can read out loud. This helps his skills, encourages his love of reading and helps me remember the wonderful feelings I used to get from hearing a bedtime story. Best of all, it’s a quiet moment we can share together getting lost in another land that does not involve TV, video games, school, work, or any outside pressures.


Summer Reading Bookshelf:  The childhood story about the Little Engine That Could was a telling tale about the power of believing you could do something and making it happen. I thought about that message when I encountered a new book that looks at the impact of having either a fixed mindset (always gonna be this way) or a growth mindset (things could be different).

I’m looking forward to reading Carol Dwek’s book,  Mindset – The New Psychology Of Success – How We Can Learn To fulfill Our Potential. Random House 2006.

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