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Sunday, 2 October 2011

Does Multitasking Kill Your Focus and Productivity?

Have you ever tried picking up your spoon to drink your soup? Yes?
Now try slowly picking up the tea spoon, lifting as slowly as you can to stir the cup of coffee or hot chocolate.
I must say it is very difficult to lift a tea spoon SLOW MOTION. Controlling your hand movement and convincing your mind it is too fast at the same time. 
Worse off is when someone else comes along and actually pushes your spoon down every time it is lifted a centimetre. You feel like screaming and letting go of the spoon.
This was the scenario that happen on a coffee night@Chapel, a friend was trying to convince me to slow down my pace and take up too much responsibility. I do not need to do everything for everyone.
It suddenly hit me (like morning coffee) I realise I really can't stop or slow down, everything around me is revolving so fast. I tried to find time to rest, stay home and do nothing, I fail every single time.
Even my parents (whom live in another country), complain and felt that I am out of control. Could they hear it from my voice? I have never worried  them with my troubles.

Their statement somehow shocked me, "... the way you live your life you will beat me to Heaven."

Well, I like to think of myself as the master of multitasking at work.

Of course, just like everyone else, I sometimes try to do too much at one time, get overwhelmed and have to step back and refocus. 
But it’s a periodic and short-lived problem, and most of the time, I am multitasking away. I can’t imagine working differently.
But not everyone feels this way, some says it not only hurts productivity, but I notice personally that it also can damage your health. Instead of resting, exercising, eating healthy, I focus all my attention on doing so much and pleasing everyone that I neglect my body and finally fall sick.
According to The Autumn of the Multitaskers in The Atlantic, multitasking dumbs us down, increases stress and ages us prematurely. Wow!
Multitasking costs us extra time when we switch from one task to another, especially when the complexity of the tasks increases.
I can’t deny that multitasking can be crazy sometimes!
Clients get impressed with me meeting their datelines and endless request that they start asking for more work done, faster and sooner. Slowly I put myself on so much stress that should blame myself for spoiling them and they become so needy or demanding.
Then again, I feel the whole concept of bad multitasking is overrated. 
In fact, I will even go so far to say if you are goal-oriented, driven, and thrive on the challenge, then multitasking is the only way to work.

It’s necessary.
I’m busy. I am single and a workaholic but enjoys hanging out with friends for drinks. During my holidays I even like to travel and to take time off visit my family on the way. Killing two birds with one stone some would say. The only way I can possibly maintain a level of productivity and do the things I want to do each day is by multitasking. I wouldn’t be able to accomplish much without it.

It stimulates energy.
When I am moving back and forth between projects, I get energized. It’s exciting and fun to be able to change my focus on a whim. And it prevents boredom. Some friends say I am crazy for choosing complicated over simple projects.

It makes priorities realistic.
There may be no better reality check than realizing you are trying to do too much. When I hit that wall of overwhelm and overwork, it’s a clue that it’s time to revisit my priorities and to-do list and do some weeding.

It’s a feel-good way of life.
At the end of the day, multitasking allows me to get a lot accomplished. I feel good when I wind down and realize that I hit most of my targets by working fast, switching focus and spreading my attention.

Having said that, I should point out that sometimes I avoid multitasking, for example, when I am checking for errors. While I am a multitasker at heart there are times when it’s not productive. And that’s when I go into my sole-focus mode.
Plus, I would have to say that multitasking is probably not efficient and productive for everyone. In fact, I agree that it can be dangerous if you tend to get overly stressed, distracted by having too much going on, and unable to dedicate enough attention to the task at hand to do it successfully. Not everyone can do it.

But, for me, I will continue to multitask and enjoy every second of it until one day I wake up feeling sick and tired of everything, everyone and runaway from all.