Why I Have Stopped Multi-Tasking

Why I Have Stopped Multi-Tasking

It’s taken me a while to accept the following statement as truth but now I try to  live by it everyday:

‘Multi-tasking does not work’

I’m not really talking about the physical aspect of doing more than one thing at once, which, isn’t actually possible a lot of the time – can I drive a car whilst talking to my six year old about his ever expanding Christmas list? Absolutely. Can I respond to work emails whilst cooking the tea? Perhaps, but the likelihood of having ricey sludge with our chilli is greatly increased, as is the likelihood of me putting a kiss at the end of an email to a colleague (we’re all guilty of that one!).

What I’m specifically talking about is the mental strain I used to put myself under everyday by constantly thinking about everything that needs to be done or hasn’t been done or should have been done by now.

What I have now learnt to do is to concentrate on one thing at a time and realise that we are all only human. Here are a few key points that have helped me on this path:

  • Delete all work related apps from my phone – sorry Shopify, Mailchimp, Facebook and Twitter you have all gone (Instagram you get to stay but only because I have no other option). I used to find that I would regularly pick up my phone out of habit and start checking the website performance, looking at social media coverage etc. None of which is productive and is just distracting me from what I should be prioritising in the day which, at the moment, are my three children. I now only work when I have time to open up my laptop, sit at my desk and concentrate.
  • Do one task and concentrate on it and only it. I use to be awful for getting myself into a state because whilst I’m loading the dishwasher I’m creating a huge list in my head of everything else that needs to be done. This list can seem overwhelming and I start to feel anxious about not having the time to do it all. I now take my time and only think about what I’m doing at the time. Setting out a list in the morning can be quite handy if you do tend to let your imagination run away with you.
  • Be at peace with the idea that there will always be something to do. I would quite often overwhelm myself by thinking of all of the tidying, cleaning, cooking, shopping and general ‘mumming’ that needed to be done, almost as if I was racing around all the time to get absolutely everything done and that my to-do list would be completely clear. In reality, this is never going to be the case, there will always be toys to pick up, washing to do, bathrooms to clean, floors to hoover, blogs to write, emails to reply to, family to see, tea to cook.. you see where I’m going. I no longer charge around moaning about how much there is to do, I do a little each day of what needs to be done to keep life balanced the way I like it.
  • Set time aside for work. I have reached the conclusion that I cannot work during the day when I have my two and a half year old and my eight month old to look after. It simply cannot be done, I have tried and failed. I just end up wondering aimlessly around my laptop for an hour or so whilst trying to distract the boys with a film or food. This is neither good for them or me. I only start work when the children are in bed or if I find myself with a very rare child free day (this blog is being written from my fiancés office as he has taken the boys for the day so I can get some work done – what a gem).

Thoughts are extremely powerful things and too many of the wrong sort can be damaging so stop worrying about how much you have to do. Prioritise your life, enough each day to keep things ticking just how you like it, but not enough that it starts to become a chore.

Mindfulness is a very hot topic at the moment and this is pretty much the opposite of multi-tasking and therefore is exactly what I am suggesting to everyone with this blog post. Whatever you’re doing, take your time to do concentrate fully on the task at hand before even thinking about what’s next. Trust me, it’s life-changing.

Gemma Spencer

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