Ahhhh, multitasking. The solution to our fast-paced, time-crunched lives, right?
Multitasking, the performance of several things at one time, is only effective when the tasks involved don’t interfere or distract from each other. The brain can’t focus on more than one task at a time, so multitasking is more about rapidly switching between tasks. Plenty of time is lost during the switching process.
Where Multitasking Fails
Some things aren’t meant to be done at the same time. Like walking and reading a novel or newspaper, for instance. I’ve seen this one plenty of times on the crowded streets of the city. That’s a good way to walk into oncoming traffic…or get an elbow to the head by a fellow pedestrian.
Have you seen that old favourite at the gym, reading a magazine while on the stationary bike or cross trainer? It’s definitely not an effective workout. If you’re tired or recovering from an illness then maybe watching a bit of TV on the screen in front of you won’t interfere with your slow-paced cardio, but normally if you can focus on a magazine and do your workout then you’re not working hard enough.
A good workout needs focus. Replying to text messages while weight training is a distraction too. You need to keep track of your rest periods between sets and keep your mental focus in the gym so you can perform at your peak.
No Multitasking during Family Time
Some things don’t go together well at all. We all love our smartphones and it’s easy to get caught up checking emails or how many likes the photo of your cat got on Facebook. Just don’t do it when you’re spending quality time with your family. Tonight I caught my husband, who is normally a very focussed and committed partner and father, “playing” with our 2-month-old son while watching a Facebook video on his iPhone. Yes, it’s tempting to reply to that last work email when you’re having dinner with your family or figure out how many followers you currently have on Twitter while your sister is in the middle of a long explanation of her daughter’s toilet training success, but you don’t show the people you care about that you love them by tuning them out.
Give your loved ones focused time.
Where Multitasking Works
Sure, it’s ok to go for a walk and listen to that inspirational audiobook. Or listen to music while you work out (it may even enhance your performance). Read a book while sitting on the subway to work. Use multitasking wisely.
Be smart, and definitely don’t put on makeup or post photos of yourself on Instagram while driving!