Multi-tasking is often touted as being beneficial to our success. In fact, in our fast-paced society, it is viewed as more than beneficial. It is thought to be absolutely essential.
As a dedicated believer for over a decade, I often multi-tasked both at work and at home. I even thought that if you weren’t multi-tasking, then you were an unproductive slacker. That wasn’t very nice of me, I know.
Yet, that is what our society tells us. In fact, any online job search will reveal that most job’s list multi-tasking as a requirement. As a result, my resume (and maybe even yours) states that I possess this ability.
Employers love jumping on the multi-tasking band wagon, and why wouldn’t they? After all, if one person can do two jobs, then they get two employees for the price of one. The only problem is, multi-tasking comes with its own price to pay.
For me, the price of trying to juggle too many balls at once was severe stress. So severe, in fact, that it forced me to unexpectedly resign from an 11-year career. That was a month ago, and while I’m not quite reduced to rocking in the corner of a padded cell, my overloaded brain is still in the process of recovery.
What I learned the hard way is that multi-tasking is neither practical nor sustainable. I knew this as a kid. I simply must have forgotten how difficult it is to rub your belly while patting your head.
Now that I have been reminded of this reality by being reduced to doing only those two activities, albeit separately, I am committed to changing my ways. I know now that multi-tasking isn’t healthy at all. Not only does it rob us of peace and well-being, but it also prevents us from being fully present in any given moment.
As part of my recovery, then, I am disciplining myself to engage in only one task at a time. Instead of watching a movie while I eat a meal, I am focusing all my attention on tasting the food. Instead of doing laundry while I talk on the phone, I am fully engaging in the conversation. I am no longer trying to pack every minute. Instead, I am moving through my days in a more fluid and natural way.
This new single-tasking life is not at all easy for me. Even so, I know that my convalescence depends on me behaving differently. Yet, it isn’t just about restoring my health. It is about slowing down and actually being present in this life I have been given.
If life is the experiencing of the experience, then we must be fully present to be fully alive. Multi-tasking, then, is counter-productive to real living. Although it has long masqueraded as the key to a full and rewarding life, the exact opposite is true.
The untold dangers of multi-tasking are about much more than texting while driving. They are about missing out what really matters – life!
For more information on how to make room in your life for being fully present and fully alive, see Sarah Susanka’s book The Not So Big Life on the Resources page of this web site. Or visit NotSoBigLife.com.