thoughts on multitasking and relaxation

August 7th, 2010 by Kawika Heftel

multitaskingI am a chronic multitasker.  I am always doing it, no matter where I am.  I can’t resist opening the laptop while watching TV, or checking my email constantly throughout the day, or putting someone on speakerphone to check the text that just came in.  Sometimes I’m on the phone, texting and chatting online all at the same time.  I am a multitasking addict.

Speaking of which, I just returned to add more to this post from checking up on some massive file-copying I’m doing, commenting on friends’ blogs, and other such things.  Haha.

What I’m trying to say, in my A.D.D. way, is this – many times in our modern-day lives, multitasking is required.  We can’t really get away from it completely as we juggle multiple demands on our time.  But sometimes, it was imperative that we DON’T multitask.  A friend pointed out to me that I’ve been burning out – I’ve been spinning my wheels trying to get so many things done at once, I’d totally forgotten what it means to stop and enjoy a meal, or watch a show without trying to do work at the same time.  I stopped and realized that even if I HAD spare time, I wouldn’t know what to DO with it.  I had no idea what I do for fun, anymore, because I never take time anymore to HAVE fun.  Or recuperate.  Or whatever you want to call it.  Good thing I have friends – sometimes it takes an outside perspective to point out what you can’t see because you’re too close to the situation.

So, today I did something about it.  I notified clients and friends that I’d be unavailable, I turned off my phone, and I took some time for myself.  It was aMAZing!  I actually felt rejuvenated, instead of feeling like I was trudging through life with metal boots on.

I tried it again tonite.  I was teaching myself some new programming skills while watching Hulu tonight, and eventually, I became too worn-out again to focus properly.  So I stopped multitasking, used the “Full Screen” button on the video player and vegged out to the last couple episodes of the show I was watching – and I felt better again.  And hence comes the moral of the story, which is probably painfully obvious to everyone but yours truly:

If you’re going to get any benefit out of relaxing, you have to STOP MULTITASKING.  Do ONE thing, one RELAXING thing, at a time.  Then feel free to jump back into our crazy, modern world.  But watch out for too much multitasking, or you might lose out on a million-dollar opportunity, as this guy did.

EDIT: Also check out this article on multitasking and its adverse affects on efficiency.

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