Yesterday proved something to me that I think I already knew.
I’m not an effective multi-tasker.
I was attempting to help my wife put our kids to bed while also listening and participating in a conference call.
I did neither task particularly well.
Of course, I opted to put the majority of my attention on my kids, which felt great, but at the same time I felt bad for not being able to be an active participant in the call. True, I gave it a go, and was able to share a few thoughts during the call, but it was clear that my thinking, and ability to be reflective, was challenged by the attention I needed, and wanted, to put on my kids.
Much conversation has been had about the effectiveness, or not, of our work when we multi-task. Most of the recent research I have seen has spoken to the fact that multi-tasking is really an impossibility, and none of us do it particularly well. Apparently, even when we think we are being more effective than we could have been had we been engaged in just one task, we are actually worse off than we would have been otherwise. It seems the idea of working on more than one task at the same time tricks us into thinking we are accomplishing more, when in fact, we are accomplishing less.
As I sat there trying to listen to both my children and my colleagues, I realized that my mind wasn’t meant for such split activities. My need to be more focused as I work, and play, is something I need to remember about myself. I can’t multitask, and I need to remember that I’m better off if I don’t!