Written by Melanie Toner
Ask any busy professional who is planning an event about multitasking. Whether they have a large team or a small operation, they will likely run on about their pride in managing more than one project or task at a time.
For many years multitasking was a big buzz word that many took pride in claiming as a mastered skill. Most recently, studies have shown how challenging and unproductive multitasking truly can be.
Experts now suggest we should stop multitasking and prioritize to gain efficiency and balance throughout our busy days. However, the concept of “balance” means something different to everyone, and it’s up to each individual to discover what works best for his/her life.
Christine Carter, a happiness expert at UC Berkeley, shares her approach to create work/life balance through focus and prioritizing.
In her latest book, The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Work and at Home, Carter offers advice on how to stop multitasking, prioritize and gain efficiency in your day.
Here are 3 Myths that have taken over our culture.
Myth #1: Busyness = Significance
You’ll often hear people trading stories of how busy their life is. Work, family, running errands, chasing the deadline – it’s impossible to fit it all in – too busy! They wear their busyness as a badge of honor because they feel if they are busy then people will think they’re important. The truth is busyness equals cognitive overload making it hard to think clearly, to be productive, and to be organized.
The solution: allow yourself to single-task and focus. Consider setting a timer, closing all other windows or apps, or simply closing the door. Focus on the task at hand and only move on when it’s complete or hits an appropriate time to take a break.
Myth #2: Doing nothing is a waste of time.
Isn’t it so uncomfortable to do nothing? It feels like a waste of time, especially when you know you have a long to-do list waiting for you. Usually these “breaks” are filled with scrolling social media, watching reality TV or doing unproductive busy work. The truth is our brain benefits when we “waste” time, when we do nothing.
The solution: become a strategic slacker. Don’t numb your emotions with constant distractions as this causes a narrow range of emotions, resulting in a feeling of unhappiness. Rather, give yourself plenty of time to space out. This is sure to cause discomfort to rise but let yourself feel what you need to feel. It’s your wise self speaking to you. This will allow you to tap into your heart and begin to discover what truly brings you happiness. This deeper understanding will support you when making decisions both big and small.
Myth #3: More would be better.
We all want more – more time, more stuff, more freedom, more money, more love and so on. The truth is often less is better. We already have enough. The desire for perfection is the problem.
The solution: begin to acknowledge the abundance in your life. Strive for quality not quantity to experience fulfillment.
Consider your own beliefs around multitasking, busyness, wasting time and the idea that more is better. If you desire to make a change, focus and prioritize beginning with the above list.
Melanie serves as the Crew & Volunteer Coordinator for the Philadelphia Susan G. Komen 3-Day®. Most days you’ll find her barefoot in her office, drinking a mocha and munching on popcorn while her little dog, Zoe, snags the kernels that get away.