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Do you still multitask?

What meditation teaches you about resisting multitasking

By David HipPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
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Do you still multitask?
Photo by Oscar Aragon on Unsplash

I know, It’s a beaten piñata, but it bears repeating:

Multitasking doesn’t work.

We can only really focus on ONE thing at a time.

If we focus on 2 or more things, we get less done and take longer. What follows is a list of detrimental side effects of multitasking:

• Your performance can drop up to 40%

• You make a lot more errors because switching between tasks takes up mental energy

• Multitasking can make you more forgetful. (Ever had that mental haze after multitasking for hours?)

•Students who multitask do worse on subsequent tests

• Constant interruptions of your flow lead to more stress

• The more you multitask, the less you can focus

• Do you multitask to save time? Turns out tasks take longer when you multitask.

Because as Dave Crenshaw tells us, “Multitasking is a survival strategy, not a productivity strategy.”

Multitasking was first invented to describe the workings of a computer.

People took it up because they felt they could also be more productive if they worked on several tasks at the same time.

It felt good and seemed to produce good results.

There was a hype around multitasking.

And then it died.

Most people have gotten the message that multitasking is inefficient and does more harm than good.

But the question remains: Do you still multitask?

Do you phone while driving? Switch between different tabs on your browser? Work on different devices at once? Eat and watch TV?

This multitasking allows you to make more thoughtless mistakes. It’s “merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time.” (Steve Uzzel)

The more I practice mindfulness, the more I realize how much I still multitask.

Meditating daily has also taught me to watch my tendency to multitask and use it as an anchor.

An anchor not to let my focus slip but to keep doing one thing at a time.

Because this is what we train when we sit down to meditate.

I call it the Art of Monotasking.

Meditation is the art of connecting with one task.

And not let anything, not even our thoughts interfere.

Because distractions always come up, but we can choose not to engage in them.

The ability to single-task, not multitask, is a hidden gem in the quest to actually get our best work done. Gary Keller

When I started to meditate, I got a deeper glimpse of why we multitask.

Although the word is new, the tendency to multitask isn’t.

It comes with the nature of our minds.

When we sit down and focus on something, it doesn’t take long for a thought to show up.

This thought often nudges us to place our focus elsewhere and do something else.

An internal struggle between our two thoughts ensues.

We might even call them two selves. One wants to continue to write, while the other wants to check social media.

Multitasking is a way to try to satisfy both selves. You get to check your social media and write.

But of course, there’s a hook: You get to do both, but slower, worse, and you’re more stressed.

What’s the solution?

This isn’t going to surprise you: meditation.

We practice it sitting down and we use it later on. We let the distracting thought slip away without checking social media. We keep writing.

That’s also the reason why I said multitasking is a prompt to be more mindful.

Because whenever you notice you’re multitasking, you have given in to a distracting thought.

It’s time to wake up and start doing one thing at a time again.

To sum it up: Multitasking is not your enemy. It’s a sign you can reconnect with your environment. All it takes is a little kindness, a smile, and re-engagement. The question remains: Do you multitask?

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About the Creator

David Hip

The Connector

Connecting people, ideas, and concepts.

Through mindfulness, gratitude, and writing.

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