Last year I read Seven, by Jacqueline Leo and was intrigued by what she had to say about multi-tasking – the ways that it can re-wire your brain, and how the majority of people of a certain age aren’t even equipped for it in the first place. I also read an article in Scientific American that explained human beings were capable of keeping track of two things at a time only when there is a worthile reason to do so. Anything over that leads to poor decision making, and I suspect that watching my favorite tv show while working on a project, checking e-mail, and being on Twitter are not as worthwhile for my brain to track as I might think.
Being an inveterate multitasker, my brain might be wired for it, but I still have the sneaking suspicion that I would be much better off if I chose a task and focused on it until completion, or at the very least worked on it without distractions until the allotted time I have assigned is up, and it is time for me to move on to something else. In a rare off Twitter discussion with Jen, I mentioned that I thought I had given myself a version of technology induced attention deficit disorder. My concentration and attention span are shot. Jen and I decided to devote a week to testing out unitasking, and in her Sunday Salon post at Devourer of Books entitled “One Thing At A Time”, she laid out her goals for the week. Here is what I am thinking:
- Make Lists My Friends – I love to make lists and I am often guilty of recreating the same list more than once. I am not so good at revisiting my lists and actually checking things off. I might check off a few items and then the list is quickly abandoned. I have also been known to make a list just for the pleasure of feeling accomplished and checking the thing I just did off of it. Crazy! I know. This week I am making lists related to certain projects and will add to, check off and use the same list for each and every time. This scares me, but this week I will do it.
- Hulu Must Go – I heard that they are making it a subscription channel, and I won’t pay for Hulu, so this is just as good a time as any to wean myself off of having a window open with some show playing in the background. If I am going to watch TV or a video, I will commit to taking the time to sit and do just that.
- Assign Time & Find More Time – Time is always an issue and I think it will be less problematic for me if I set aside the time to do specific tasks. The big things on my list to investigate the efficiency of unitasking are my hugest time sucks – Twitter, Google Reader and E-Mail. They will each get their time to shine and after that I have to move on. I also won’t do these things while I am doing something else. If it is urgent and I feel like I might forget to e-mail or tweet about it, then I will write it down on my to-do list so that I can take care of it at the right time.
Rome wasn’t built in a day so I won’t get all crazy and say I will do more. I’m starting out with my focus on the list I have created above, and I will see if I should give serious though to kicking multitasking to the curb.
How do you feel? Does multitasking work for you?