Friday, August 14, 2009

If You Thrive On Being A Multitasker, Read On…

Do you do multiple things at a time? Such as launching several browsers with different addresses while waiting for one to load up, or cooking a few things at a time since your gas stove comes with 3 or 4 burners anyway? Or calling up someone on the cell phone while driving, especially when the traffic’s really slow? Hmm… what else? Reading while pumping? Having dinner over a television program? Snacking while reading? Or clearing your emails while waiting for your simulation to complete? The list can continue on and on.

Well, if you did any of the above, and felt that you’re actually saving some time accomplishing more than one task at one time, think again. To be honest, I did some, if not all of the above - multitasking. First, I thought I could accomplish more. Second, there were just too many things to do that I had to squeeze some things in between. And thirdly, it’s so boring doing a certain thing alone that I find it easier to pass time when I multitask that with another more interesting activity.

Let me elaborate. I have this habit of calling my parents while I am driving, just for chatting. I find talking to them a great relief, because I could just pour out everything to them and listen to their advice, or just checking how they are doing back home. Since I could not find other time to talk because my hands would be full then, I felt that driving is the best time. I have the speaker phone on, and I’m using my mouth to talk, while my hands would be free to drive. Yes, so I thought that gives me a license to talk while driving without getting into any trouble with the police. Also, especially when the traffic is bad, it’s not so boring queuing there all alone, when we have someone to take our minds off for awhile. Until one day, something happened that made me think twice. I realized that even though I could accomplish two things at a time, or removed the boring element away during that period, I was not focusing on what I was doing. When we lost focus, we won’t be able to do something well. And we might end up doing mistakes, which could actually waste more time in the long run. I have experienced making the wrong turns while I was talking while driving. That means, I needed longer time to arrive at my destination. I’ve also experienced leaving the parking ticket in my car because I was not concentrating, so I had to make additional trips to my car to retrieve it. These are just small incidents which haven’t involved life yet, such as an unforeseen accident. I also heard that robbers aim at people on the cellphone because that's the best time to attack - when people are off their guards.

But, despite all the awareness, it's still hard to change. Because it has somehow become my lifestyle. Another good example - I have noticed all along that when I was reading and pumping at the same time, I took more time to accomplish the main task, which was pumping. But since it’s boring to just pump, so I read anyway. It's better to be slower when I could read at least one chapter a day. Better than never get to start at all, I reasoned. It's like pumping has given me the justification to read, because when I pump, I could not do any other things except reading. Strange mentality I have, yeah? Ok, back to our original discussion. When I am reading, I actually spend more time to express the same amount compared to when I am just purely focusing on pumping. That’s because, while I am digesting the material, I actually slowed down a bit. Or, sometimes, I continue pumping even though I am actually done, just because I have to read a few more pages to complete that chapter. So I dragged on.

One day, while I was multitasking (cooking dinner and doing the laundry at the same time), my daughter was vying for my attention too – she wanted to tell me something. I told her to go on, I was listening. But that’s not enough for her. She wanted me to look at her before she actually started, “Mommy, you’re not looking at me. Mommy, look at me.” I told her I could hear her even though I was not looking, but she’s not happy. So I had to put my things aside, and look at her, before she actually talked to me. See, even a child could understand that. By looking at her, I could focus on her, and could see her expression when she’s relating something to me. It means she’s special, she had all my attention. Even though that also means dinner would be served later. That didn’t matter to her at all.

So, focus is indeed the keyword here. If you can still focus when you multitask, then please go ahead. I am not someone who could listen to the music while working or reading on something that requires a lot of concentration. But many of my friends could. I guess it still depends on what type of tasks that you’re multitasking; some can be done in parallel without sacrificing the quality. But I learnt something today, that when I multitask, I couldn’t give 100% focus to both things at the same time. Somehow, I would need to slow down a bit to get one task started, before moving on to the next. So even though I could complete two tasks in a certain timeframe, it would still be slower compared to if I just focus on one thing and get that done perfectly. Meaning putting my soul into it and not merely for the sake of accomplishing it. That makes a lot of difference.

1 comment:

Pet said...

I like to multi task too, sometimes I accomplished them well but at times, no.

I cannot work n listen to music at the same time too! :-)


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