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multitasking effectively
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In a Hurry to Get Things Done?
Multitasking Effectively

I'm in a hurry to get things done
Oh I rush and rush until life's no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I'm in a hurry and don't know why

--Song by Alabama

How apropos this verse is to most of our lives. We always seem to be playing catch-up, and those fun moments can be infrequent. Even when we are ostensibly doing something fun, our minds wander off to the next activity or list of tasks waiting for us.

This rush we are always in causes us to multitask. You might even see job descriptions that say, "Must be able to multitask." When most people refer to multitasking they mean working on two or more things at the same time that require mental effort and attention. If you really want to get more done and still have time for fun, STOP this type of multitasking.

The origin of the term "multitasking" came from computers. People noticed that they seemed to be performing several functions at the same time. But were they really? Imagine two networks requiring access to same area at same time. Either the activity will alternate between the two, which deprives both of full access, or they will be active simultaneously but will not be fully effective because they interrupt each other.

In his book, "The Myth of Multitasking: How 'Doing it All' Gets Nothing Done," author Dave Crenshaw breaks down the term "multitasking" into two different categories:

1. Switchtasking
2. Background tasking

These groupings are much more descriptive in analyzing behavior and determining which activities lead to problems and stress in our lives.

Switchtasking is what we do all day at work as we talk on the phone while scrolling through email and listening to colleagues' conversations. A law of physics says that no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time. While thoughts are not objects, the same concept applies. Attempts to multitask like this make you less productive, not more.

It is not possible to do two things at the same time and do them both at 100per cent. One will be more dominant. What might be the price you pay for partial attention on work items?

Every time you switch, there is a recovery period associated with it, so overall you are losing minutes. If you completed one type of activity and then moved to the other, it would be a lot quicker with better results.

Background tasking refers to the repetitive or mundane daily activities that you routinely perform. This can actually be very efficient, when you are not making decisions. Examples are reading a book while on a stationary bike, folding laundry in front of the TV, or listening to background music while washing the dishes.

In evaluating your multitasking habits, leave out background tasking. Multitasking involves multi-thinking. If you claim that you are good at this, then you are good at an inefficient way to get things done. Maybe that could explain, "I'm in a hurry and don't know why." The why is because you are taking longer to get things done by splitting your attention.

Besides getting less work done, there is a component of physical damage:
→→Constant multitasking causes you to pump adrenaline throughout the day.
→→Adrenaline build-up produces stress in your body.
→→Stress is tied in to 80% of current medical expenditures.

Oh, I hear a voice
That says I'm running behind
Better pick up my pace
It's a race and there ain't no room for someone in second place.

When you find that you do have to multitask:

  1. Don't try to learn/master something new.
    ---Execute instead of absorb.
    ---Do this when mistakes won't matter.
  2. Match different types of activities
    Similar activities are harder because they come from the same brain region. Compare reading while listening to music with lyrics and then reading while listening to music without lyrics and observe when you turn pages faster.
  3. Make at least one of the two something you do all the time.

Once you develop an awareness of how often and when you switchtask, you can learn to be more present in the moment. What is the point of all that work if "life's no fun"?

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