The Real Reason We Are Not As Good At Multitasking As We Think

Multitasking: Are we really that Good? (Or just good at lying to ourselves?)

Here’s a little quiz. Which one of these do you think is easiest and safest?

a. Taking a shower while brushing your teeth.

b. Texting while walking (or chewing gum and walking—I hear this can be quite difficult at times).

c. Cleaning out the fridge while making dinner. (Hey kids! I guess I’m not cooking after all tonight!)

d. Folding laundry while watching the latest zombie series episode. (Did you see how badly you just folded that towel? Oh, wait, you don’t care?”)

e. All of the above

If you answered anything other than “e,” then I think we’re missing the point behind multi-tasking. Multi-talking is supposed to be beneficial, meaning we can “kill two birds with one stone” or we’re low on time, high on things to do. So, if we can accomplish two or three things at once, then geez, we just shaved off seconds! (I’m being sarcastic. Seconds. SECONDS. That’s it.)

But, is a job speedily done – along with another job speedily done –ever going to turn out as good as it could if it had been done by itself? I doubt it. I really do. Because in the end, it will always be about quality over quantity. Two things done half-well don’t equal one thing done well. 

I can hear you saying, “But, I have to multi-task. I don’t have the time NOT to.” But, see you actually do. You have time to do something right first, than doing many things half-hearted or things that you’ll have to redo.

You know you have the time to not text and drive, because that could kill you. You know you have the time to watch the baby and not cook over the hot stove at the same time, because that baby’s safety is paramount. We don’t even question those because they’re so obvious. 

But what about the less obvious multi-tasking hindrances? Why should we focus on one thing at a time.

Here’s a few reasons why.

1. You’re missing out on the moment.

You’re missing out on now. If I’m brushing my teeth in the shower, am I really brushing them well? Am I getting clean? How do I shampoo my hair and brush my teeth anyway? The moment of now, the massaging my head with the shampoo should be the amazing moment, not chewing on the toothbrush while I clean my head. The best moments are the ones we focus on. Watch the zombie show! Don’t ruin the moment with laundry! Why would I want to do that?

Actually, I know why. I’m a mom. And there is always something to do and always something that didn’t get done. But, in order to have peace in my head, I have had to teach myself to stop multitasking. If I don’t want to resent other family members for watching the zombie show and not fold laundry like I did, then I either need to do one thing at a time, or have them fold the laundry with me. If I fold the laundry alone, I resent no one else having to and become so angry at them that I miss out on focusing the show! Mom fail for sure.

2. Where’s the joy in rushing?

There is none. Instead of raising joy in me, rushing raises my blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol levels. I may feel satisfied that I could do many things at once, but it’s inevitable that I missed out on true joy. There’s true joy in walking the dog (while smelling the fresh air), rather than walking the dog and surfing the internet.

There is joy in everything we do, but we have to find it. We have to find it for ourselves. And we’re not going to get it doing two things at once if even we saved a few seconds. Busyness is a joy-stealer and multitasking will take that joy. Be intentional with your time and that joy gained is worth far more than crossing things off your to do list. Trust me on this. I’m a list-maker. I love lists, but my mental health is more important.

3. Calm cool collected people look so much cooler than a whirlwind in a dress.

I’m telling you. Chill people, doing chill things, have low blood pressure. They have time to think about what they’re doing AND they look so much better doing that than what I look like sweating off my makeup trying to do ten things at once. I’d rather choose to relax and look relaxed. The bonus?  I really am relaxed. 

So, while I can close the dresser drawer with my foot, hold a coffee cup without spilling, blow a kiss to my dog, and grab my jacket and purse, while I leave the house texting my dude that I want “take out Chinese” for dinner, that’s great and amazing. Awesome job, me! High five. But when I spill the coffee on my blouse, misspell my text and auto correct says “make out in my car,” and kick the dog accidentally instead of the drawer and then realize I left that thing on the kitchen counter … not so awesome.

Let’s all slow down. Slow it waaaaay down and enjoy one thing at a time for peace of mind, body and soul. One thing at a time done right supersedes any functional or dysfunctional multitasking.

Slow it down and enjoy it all, like a nice big piece of pie and ice cream. Wait … is eating that considered multitasking? Nah.