HB Unfiltered: Multitasking is Weakness

Originally Posted on HBUnfiltered.com

By: Heather Bergeron

I know this sounds terrible to say, but sometimes it’s almost frustrating how badly I want to prove Ben wrong…but, I just can’t.

He’s just right.

His latest focus is how multitasking is a weakness.

He talks about how multitasking is usually something people try to do: employers try to get their employees to get better at it, and we will sometimes even sit down and figure out how we can do more of it.

I know because I’m one of those people. I’m a stereotypical mother of 4 who’s, basically, trying to figure out how many things I can do at any given time without putting myself or other people in danger.

Can I make my coffee, cook Bode and Love’s bacon, and ask Jonah what’s going on at school that day all at the same time? Can I eat my breakfast, check what’s up for training today, and FaceTime my parents at the same time? Can I brush my teeth, make my bed, and keep the kids from, literally, killing each other at the same time?

I start that list from the moment I open my eyes in the morning, and keep it going hard until I close my eyes in bed at the end of the day. And, even then I’m trying to get myself to sleep while trying to figure out what I’ll start with when I wake up.

Unfortunately, now thinking all of this through, I’ve gotten very good at it.

Ben’s made me realize that what’s unfortunate about it is that when you multitask you’re basically half-assing the things that you’re doing. You’re giving everything and everyone less than what you could and should be giving them.

If you have 100% of your attention to give something, but split that up over 3 different tasks, you’re trimming down the amount of your attention that you could be using if you had just focused on doing one of them at a time.

More simply put, the quality of what you spend your time doing suffers when you do more than one thing at a time.

And, that goes for everything because just like everything else in life, the little things matter, too. Sometimes, even more than the “big” ones.

It’s easy to admit that you would be more invested in a conversation with your mother on the phone if you weren’t folding laundry and checking your email at the same time. Of course you would “hear” more of what she said, you would think more about the questions she’s asking you, and you would remember the things she asked you to do if you weren’t distracted by other things. That’s an easy one to admit to and make an effort to change.

It’s the other ones that I want to fight as much as the next person: eating a meal or snack and checking Instagram, pushing Love in a stroller and talking on the phone, or driving to the gym and flossing my teeth.

Those are the ones that involve throw-aways, things that don’t “need” a lot of my attention. I don’t think of eating as something that needs my brain; it’s not like I need to sit there and focus on cutting up my salad or how I’m chewing. It’s going to happen somehow. And, especially now that I weigh and measure my food, it’s not like I need to think much about whether I’m eating too much or too little. Just keep going until my plate’s empty.

But, the experience is lost to some extent when you start zoning out and open up your Instagram app. You are less likely to ask someone to sit down with you while you eat if you can just be entertained by your phone instead. You do eat faster just so you can “get through” it and move onto the next thing. You do flip through your Instagram feed and barely even pay attention to what’s on your screen because you’re pulling together another fork full of food.

One of the worst ones that I am guilty of is watching Maya’s field hockey game while chatting with someone. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Ben or Katrin or another parent, but when I’m at Maya’s games and I start talking to someone…even if I do everything in my power to keep my eyes peeled on her little #20 jersey…everyone gets short-changed. Whoever I’m talking to loses some degree of my attention because I’m trying so hard to do what I came there to do, namely watch Maya play field hockey. And, I inevitably lose track of what’s going on in the game because I’m trying to pay attention to the person I’m talking to. Everyone loses a little, and nothing is really “gained” by me trying to do two things at one time.

So, here we go again. Heading into the day after a 5AM life-altering conversation with Ben Bergeron before he leaves for work, trying to muster up the courage to change something I’ve been programmed to do my entire life.

It’s exhausting. But, it’s fantastic. All at the same time.

And, I’m the luckiest woman in the world to have that sort of inspiration in my life.

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