Most of us multitask, but how effective are we when we do so? Yesterday, I decided to try to do something I haven’t recently. I tried doing just one thing at a time. What an original idea, right? I mean, if you actually try to do one thing at a time, you’ll find that it’s harder to do than you realize. When mastered however, it can save you a lot of time making you more efficient.
I also learned that when your focus is sharp and you’re not multitasking, there are fewer errors in your work. A perfect example: I just had a reader catch an embarrassing error I made in my poem One True Love (A Haiku). Since it was a Haiku, it’s only 3 lines. It’s not like I had to edit a 1,000 words! I looked it over dozens of times and still didn’t notice that I had “you’re” in the first 2 lines, when it was supposed to read “your.” I mean, duh! I admit that I was multitasking when writing that poem and like my last post Camouflaged, the mistake was absurdly simple. It was right in front of my eyes and I didn’t see it. We all make mistakes. We fix them and move on, but distractions can make mistakes happen more frequently.
OVERCOMING SMARTPHONE CODEPENDENCY
If you are at lunch or dinner with family or friends, turn off your cellphone instead of texting someone back or checking out the latest social media alert. Things like that might seem minor and if you’re a busy professional, you might be expecting an important call. There are exceptions and there are no rules set in stone. But, how disrespectful is it to be glued to your phone at a restaurant? I’ve done it and have seen plenty of other people do it.
As a matter of fact, look around you no matter where you are it seems people are glued to their phones. You can be in your car driving and still be checking your phone. So, I’m learning to turn my phone off and prioritize my responsibilities. I’ve been guilty of being disrespectful by checking my cellphone for updates. And it takes surprising discipline, but it’s a necessary addiction to overcome. Technology can be very addicting, especially our smartphones.
REMOVE ALL DISTRACTIONS WHEN TRYING TO FOCUS
I used to have the television on in the background and often would rent movies, but still have my laptop open. If you’re trying to unwind for the day and you’re trying to watch a movie, close the laptop and get off of the computer. I’ve written articles, while also trying to watch a movie at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve gotten pretty good at doing both. As I mentioned, I’ve made avoidable errors in my posts as a direct result. If you’re watching a movie with your spouse or family, it’s rude to have your attention divided. My husband has had to fill me in after I’ve looked up from my computer and discovered I’ve missed a crucial scene.
So, yesterday while my daughter was napping I turned off my computer and cellphone and finished watching a movie I rented. I found that I enjoyed the movie more and got more out of the experience. And if it’s time to read a book, turn off the television and stay away from your cellphone. Read the book without all the distractions. Music is fine to have on while you’re writing. I love to write and have classical music on in the background. Some people need total silence, while other writer’s like Stephen King work while blaring Metallica.
GIVE YOUR LOVED ONES YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION
You can’t give your loved ones your undivided attention when you’re chatting with a friend on your cellphone, texting someone, checking Facebook or Instagram, taking a “selfie” because you’re looking exceptionally cute that day, or seeing what’s trending on Twitter. Trust me, I’ve done this and my daughter (who will be 2 in May) will grab my hand and ask me to come with her. A toddler has more common sense than some of us distracted adults. Now, I turn off my phone or put it away in my purse when we’re on the playground so I can give her my full attention.
The Bottom Line:
You might feel like you’re getting more done when you try to do 5 things at once, but think again. It’s more productive to give your full attention to one activity and then move on to the next. There are fewer errors, more focus, and you give each task or person more respect. I find that I can get a lot more done and move faster by giving my full focus on each task at hand without trying to divide my attention into a million things.
Some jobs require multitasking, but this means that you have to be able to juggle getting everything done quickly. You can still be more effective getting things done by focusing on each project and by managing your time. I will multitask when I have to because, as I said, there are no dead-set rules. There are always circumstances that require dividing our attention. But, moving forward I am going to do my best to do…one thing at a time. By doing so, I find that I am more focused on the now, the present moment. After all, this very moment is the most important one because none of us are guaranteed tomorrow.