I must confess, I am a multitasker.

May 25th, 2010 · by Tom Stuart · I wish I'd said that., Life Balance, Window into my Soul

Hi, my name is Tom and I am a multitasker.

I received a tweet yesterday directing me to a blog that rocked my world. It was written by a man named Peter Bregman entitled “How (and Why) to Stop Multitasking.”

No excuses,  I am guilty. Like so many, I love technology and all it can do to make our lives easier.  But technology enables us like never before to multitask and that can have harmful effects on our lives.  The dark side is that it is so easy to sacrifice productivity, peace of mind and yes even relationships on the altar of multitasking.  And ironically those are the very things we are hoping to gain by doing it.

Bregman cites recent studies that have indicated that those who multitask suffer negative effects. Rather than increasing productivity, it can actually cause it to drop by as much as 40%.  One study found that multitasking creates higher levels of stress, frustration and workload pressure.

A study done for Hewlitt Packard found that being distracted from work tasks by continually checking email and phone messages experienced a 10 point drop in IQ. Their conclusion – those who were continually interrupting work flow to answer email and texts not only lost mental sharpness but it was equivalent to losing a nights sleep.

Basically the summation of research is this – the more we multitask the less competent we become.

That is sobering.  This idea is not new to me.  I have actually been experimenting recently in restricting myself to check for incoming emails at scheduled times when that can become my only focus.  That way it allows concentration on other more important tasks at hand with no interruptions.  But I’ll admit I have not done well at sustaining that good intention.  Why is it I can be content with going to my snail mail box only once a day but must be checking email, tweets, Facebook etc. frequently throughout the day.

I have also been trying to restrain myself from continually checking my smartphone for messages. Recently I have chosen not to take it into a meeting with me so I won’t be tempted.  When I’ve done that it has been freeing and has helped me bring greater concentration to the task at hand.  But I need a greater resolve to do that as well.

Bregman’s article is a great challenge to me to take seriously these feeble attempts and actually turn to God and ask for His help in getting my multitasking addiction under control.

How are you doing in resisting the multitasking temptation?  What lessons have you learned that can help me?

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3 Responses to “I must confess, I am a multitasker.”

  1. I must confess on the way to the church this morning, I was sitting at a red light thinking I’ll make a quick phone call. I had my coffee in one hand, the phone ringing in the other hand and the light turns green. I had no hands left to drive! Thanks for a great blog Tom. I read it everyday.

  2. Dave Rasmussen May 25, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Tom, I read the article and your blog. WOW. I always
    thought I was productive being a multi-tasker. I was a
    service rep for the last 16 years at the telephone.
    Multi-tasking was part of the job; talking to a customer,
    typing on the computer, writing notes on paper, pulling files at my desk, all at the same time. I was good at it
    but it was a stressful job. It carried over to my personal
    life. Often Diane would be saying something to me and
    I am doing something else at the same time. I’d often
    not hear the important stuff she was saying. Retirement
    has helped but once a multi-tasker always a multi-tasker.
    But Praise the Lord there is hope for change!
    I’m going to make an effort to overcome this bad habit.

  3. Steven Pesklo May 26, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    hmmm… good food for thought. I wonder if there is an app on my iPhone that can help me cut down the amount of multi-tasking. Technology to help cut down my use of technology 😉

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