Until recently I used to be proud of being a multitasker. I am a multitasker, and I got there through practice. I started my career quite early in my life, and then I started my family life. It was a great thing that happened to me during those days that I had a job and sufficient income of my own before I started with family life. When you start your family life and you have a job it is expected for ladies to be on their toes. You need to be a Trapeze artist to manage both your home and career. Though I had complete support from my family and my partner, you can’t get out of the responsibilities that essentially shouldered upon you. Like most working women out there, I managed my roles as a family person and a professional. When you are put in a situation where you need to play multiple positions and try to do your best to make the people around you happy and give your best at your workplace, you will start to multitask. I was able to participate in a business discussion while doing my accounts! It all comes from practice. I am sure many of those who are reading this can relate to my story. I have no doubt that I was always trying my best in whatever task given to me, though I am not really sure about what the people around me think about the quality of my work. I was keeping on multitasking, and now it has sort of becoming a lifestyle for me.
The hit of the pandemic Covid19 has changed our lives so much that I started thinking about various possibilities of efficiently utilizing my time and skills. It is always my siblings who are on my side to feed me with the necessary guidance and support. We planned to create an online teaching platform during the days of the pandemic. While I was doing my regular job from home, we started with it, and I couldn’t even find domestic help during the pandemic’s initial days.
I did multiple things simultaneously, and I was so used to it that I failed to realize it’s not a healthy thing to do until a few minor accidents. As I had to do my job and do the household things together, it happened that I forgot to turn off the stove a couple of times, which could have become a major tragedy. I burnt myself in the kitchen while pouring hot water while I was worried about my online class time to be started soon. I realized that since I am trying to do many things simultaneously, I cannot focus on a single task that is putting me and the people around in a dangerous situation.
During those days, I heard a few discussions about the ill-effects of multitasking, which was very relatable to me. I slowly realized that the multitasking that I have been doing for so many years caused me to lose focus. I am quickly getting distracted. I sit with a book and try to read, but after a few minutes, my mind will be elsewhere, thinking about my next task or turning on my mobile screen to check the notifications. To be able to focus on things that you do is essential for it to be perfect. If you cannot focus on what you do, you will essentially make a lot of mistakes.
People are, indeed, wired differently. Our talents and level of efficiencies are varied. But what do the studies say about multitasking?
Multitasking is initially used in computer science literature in which one CPU does two or more processes at the same time. When it comes to human beings, our brain is the central processing unit (CPU) and gives the illusion of multitasking by switching between tasks performed in the same time frame. Recent research conducted at Stanford University revealed that multitasking is 40% less productive than doing a single thing at a time. Researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of information cannot pay attention, recall information or switch from one job to another, as compared to those who do one task at a time. Multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can focus on one thing at a time.
Though our brain can receive millions of commands, it can only process a few of them. When you try to do multiple things at once, your mind cannot successfully perform all of them. It is estimated that only 2% of the population is actually proficient at multitasking, and ironically these people are the least likely to actually multitask. If you think you are among this 2%, stop and think for a while whether you can excel in what you are doing. I feel that to do your best in what you do is much better than poorly doing many things. If you are a multitasker, try to ponder over your work quality and find out how good you are at what you are doing.