We live in an age where it’s cool to be doing a bajillion things, preferably at once.  If you have the TV going while you’re typing an e-mail, managing your virtual farm, and talking to your mom about the ham you got baking in the oven, you are deemed to be a demi-god of sorts.

Sorry, but I call bull on the over idolization of multi-tasking.

While it seems like you might be getting more done, multi-tasking is almost always wasteful.  Splitting your time between all those tasks above probably means your e-mail has incomprehensible sentences, you’re not listening to your mom, and you burned your ham.  There’s a reason why hands-free cell phones cause just as many accidents as handheld phones.  Even if we think we’re multi-tasking, all we’re doing is distracting ourselves from fully finishing one task.

I know why you want to multi-task.  We don’t want to do the same thing for 8-hours straight.  I’m a writer by trade, so trust me, I’m the last person who would decide to write for more than 2-hours straight at a time.  And of course I need my Twitter fixes and a bad YouTube video to break up my day.  Instead of trying to do it all at once, though, I schedule my day with breaks and a series of 1 to 2-hour chunks so I can give my mind a break from doing too much of one thing.

So I urge you to try this experiment.  Instead of doing everything at once, try tackling your workload in chunks.  Spend an hour devoted to writing, then an hour to meetings (with no Internet-capable computers present), and then try your hand at finishing that powerpoint the final hour.  You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done when you cut down on the distractions.

-Deborah Fike

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