Death of Multitasking

How long have we heard “learn to multitask” or “learn to manage your time better”?


Mr. Multitasking by Windfeld

Both in and out of the work place we are pushing ourselves to the critical point of illness! We get up in the morning, drink numerous amounts of caffeine, speed to work swearing at other vehicles, only to plunge into our thousand emails, take calls, and head to the next 3 hour long meeting. Then, we eat lunch at our desk, and consume more caffeine and sugar to get through the afternoon. We hold true to our plan to leave work after finishing writing the last 10 promised emails, which is now probably approaching 6 or 7 pm in the evening. Then perhaps head to the gym for an hour of exercise and eventually end up at our dwelling by eightish. We say hello to our family, eat dinner, and maybe squeeze in play time with the children before their bedtime in ten minutes. Now we can sit to decompress and enjoy some tea, wine or pills to relax before drifting off to sleep only to get up and do it all over again. Is that healthy? Yeah – NOT!

We are more than labels – more than employees or professions.  After years of hearing buzzwords thrown around like “multitasking” and “time management”, that are revered like some command from God saying that’s what productive human behavior should exemplify, isn’t it time to change? Yes!

When you think you are multitasking, you believe you are doing several different things at once right? You aren’t: it’s impossible. You’re just switching tasks — shifting from one task to another, lacking focus and attention, which means you probably aren’t doing any of them that well. Studies show it takes about 40 percent more time multitasking than it would take to complete each task, one at a time.

Arianna Huffington, founder, president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post said: “There’s scientific evidence that shows that there’s no such thing as multi-tasking. You think you’re being efficient, you’re actually being stupid. It’s time to move from multi-tasking to celebrating uni-tasking and actually being present in our lives rather than missing it.” Well, I agree!

Research is proving that beyond being impossible, trying to do several things at once can be downright dangerous. Hazards of multitasking is posing concern for errors in the medical field and is one of the main advocacy points for groups supporting the ban on texting while driving.

So what do we do now?

First, we need to change our perceptions about how we actually perform on a daily basis. Ask ourselves if the way we are doing something is really working well? And ask ourselves what IS well-being? Together, as a global society, we need to recognize that our personal and professional choices have a direct impact on problem solving and on well-being. The nature of the workplace, corporate or small business, or even a household, needs to change by recognizing and including wellness as part of their consciousness plan and not just some HR rhetoric or this years’ New Year’s resolution.

In healthy corporate cultures we are starting to see the expansion of wellness initiatives. Some leading companies are adding more innovative and connective approaches to health and wellbeing by creating nap rooms – a place where employees can go to de-stress. We have long known that taking breaks is an essential step in preventing illness – including the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders, depression and other stress-related illnesses. Yoga and meditation sessions, Zumba classes and reduced gym memberships are beginning to be integrated into the healthy work atmosphere. Even Apple’s founder Steve Jobs once said that his best ideas came after Zen meditation. This example of mindful policy making is gaining worldwide attention and respect from world leaders – and continues to show a positive impact both on bottom line profit margins and personal wellbeing.

I believe that taking action, by making the healthiest decisions we can by utilizing the information we have on hand, is paramount. Each of us should ask our employers about wellness in the workplace, talk to our coworkers about healthy habits, and include our families in our collaborative well-plans.  Let’s ask ourselves: are we making the most conscious and safest choices? Chances are – there is room for improvement!

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