Think you’re multi-tasking? You’re wrong.

When I’m looking for advice or just something to write about, I turn to zenhabits.net, which I found through an article on dailygood.org.  The graphic design of zenhabits fits the blog’s name.  It’s spare and simple, consisting of black text on a white background. It violates all the rules of appearance that blogging experts say are necessary to lure viewers to a site, yet its author, Leo Babauta, claims to have 225,000 readers.   He also says he has six kids, ample reason for him to seek the simple life and to have had relevant experiences that make him a credible mentor to the rest of us.

Mr. Babauta agrees with Winifred Gallagher, the author of Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life, that when we think we’re multi-tasking, we’re not.  Our brains can’t handle it.  Instead of accomplishing two things at once, we’re paying a little attention to two tasks, but not enough to be effective with either, and we’re losing focus by navigating back and forth between the two.

One multi-tasking habit I’m working to change is behaving as if incoming emails mattered.  When I’m writing, I find it easy to check each new message, even if it’s advertising a sale on make-up or for products at my local rubber stamp store.  Emails are especially tempting if I’m having trouble completing a thought and looking for an excuse to procrastinate.

Benefits of single-tasking, says Mr. Babauta, include having more focus when we’re working, becoming more skillful at whatever we’re doing, and spending more quality time alone or with others.  To get started, he suggests we think before we act (deciding ahead of time how we will work, instead of letting the situation decide for us), remove distractions, which, in my case means turning off email while I’m writing, and practice until the new behavior comes naturally.  Good advice.  I also suggest that if single-tasking is your goal, not having six kids could help, unless it’s already too late.

About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness.
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One Response to Think you’re multi-tasking? You’re wrong.

  1. Lydia says:

    So true! Lydia

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