I’m currently reading three books simultaneously (I got a tad overzealous with my library card). A word to the wise: if you place six books on hold, they will all arrive on the same day.
It’s fine—one is for my book club, one is on my to-read list (which means I have to read it immediately; it’s in the contract) and one is thin enough to fit in my purse for when I need to read on the run (do not read while running). I’m enjoying all three books, but I also feel like I’m not really progressing in any of them. As shocking as this might sound, it’s taking me three times as long to read the first half of these books as it would normally take me to finish one, and it’s kind of stressing me out! I mean, three books worth of characters, plot twists and prose is a lot to manage. I’m thinking about starting a spreadsheet …
Multitasking is so tempting. Just do everything at once! You don’t have to sacrifice time or quality! Sure, you can write that report while responding to emails and scheduling your next client meeting.
I get it; in our crazy hectic fast-paced world, some level of multitasking is necessary. But when did it become something to laud? Cool; you wrote a typo-riddled report that took you twice as long as it should have because you stopped every five minutes to check
Busy doesn’t always mean best, and juggling flaming chainsaws on a unicycle (while incredibly dangerous and very impressive) is only sustainable for so long before you end up with a broken unicycle and a thrilling story about the scars on your face.
What I think I’m attempting to say is that it might be time to give single tasking a try. I want to be more effective with my time, and I’m starting to see that single tasking has its perks. Instead of rushing through emails first thing in the morning and getting started on ten things at once, I’m making an effort to identify my key tasks for the day, and then completing them one by one, sans distractions (I’m lookin’ at you, Jimmy Fallon).
Is it tempting to hop back on my unicycle and light up a chainsaw every once in a while? Absolutely, but I feel more effective and less frazzled already AND all of the (Internet) experts agree with me: boom, boom and boom.
So, next time you find yourself compulsively checking emails, remember that single tasking is an option. Close those browser tabs, shut your office door and focus on one thing only …
… like figuring out how to read three books at once (no one’s perfect, okay?).
Photo (Flickr CC) by Magic Madzik