Reflection: It never seems to go away. This idea that our lives are so much better when we jam twice as many tasks into every minute and hour of the day.
Just last week, an article in the Globe and Mail proposed saving up to 20 hours a week by doubletasking instead of multitasking. Isn’t double is just a subset of multi?
The suggestions in the article? Catch up on email or social media while you watch TV or a movie. Study while you shave or shower. Listen to a podcast or watch a video while you exercise.
I must admit I’ve experimented with these combos myself. Just last month I took myself and a podcast for a walk along the river. I soon discovered that as soon as I tuned in the audio, I tuned out myself, nature, and the world around me. Instead of returning from the walk refreshed and relaxed, I had simply gone through the motions while someone else’s words rolled through my brain. The net result: a distracted splintered experience.
Here’s what we miss when we take this doubleheader multitasking approach. Breathing space, for one. Connection, for two. Creativity, for three.
One of the reasons we have original thoughts in the shower, for instance, is precisely because we’re not driving the ‘must think up something new’ bus while we’re cleaning up. We just engage in one task, the mind wanders at will, and surprises us – or rewards us – with original thought! That’s something that can’t be forced, but can be encouraged when we leave space for it in our lives.
Action: Yes, there are times when we can do more than two things at the same time. But let’s resist giving ourselves or others carte blanche to cram an unlimited number of activities into our already crowded days.
Be vigilant and thoughtful about your choice of combos, And know for sure that breathing space is a legitimate partner for many of your actions. (more…)