Multi-Tasking Is Not Possible

In his book Brain Rules, John Medina states that it’s not possible to multi-task because the brain can really only focus on one thing at a time. For years, we’ve been led to believe that multi-tasking is not only possible but that it’s a good thing. It personified and typified efficiency. We’ve all done it. But now, if we’re learning that multi-tasking isn’t really possible, what have we actually been doing all this time? Dividing our attention, that’s what! And no where is this more important than in the interactions we have with others.

How many times have you been in the middle of a conversation with someone and meanwhile, in the back of your head, you’re thinking of something completely unrelated pertaining to a task you have to complete or follow up on? By chalking this additional mental activity up to being good multi-tasking efficiency, you’re actually compromising your efficiency, your peace of mind and the relationship you have with the person you’re (supposed to be) communicating with. Instead, consciously decide to listen intently to others and give them your full attention. Don’t let your mind flit from one topic to another at its whim and in the middle of a conversation. Decide to focus on only the interaction you’re in the middle of – with your co-workers, friends and especially, family.

A number of things happen when you do this:
1) Your mind will become clearer
2) You will be more fully present for the other person and the interaction you’re having
3) You will be conveying a non-verbal sense of respect to the other person
4) You will enjoy the interaction more, and likely, so will they
5) Your relationship with the other person will be strengthened
6) You will be able to tap into your feelings and intuition more
7) Your awareness will increase

There are many benefits to gain from simply deciding to focus on being present for others when you’re interacting with them. This very simple approach will calm the stress you would have otherwise taken on by trying to multi-task in the interest of being efficient, in order to keep up with the overwhelming volume of things you have to do, in order to excel in this increasingly faster moving world. Give yourself a break. Slow down. Be there for each other and experience an alternative that is so much more enjoyable. It’s just waiting there for you, and you’re likely to find a more harmonious outcome for everything you do in life.


Laurence Seton, P.Eng., PMP is the President of Projecteze Inc. and the author of On Top Of Everything: Manage Your Projects & Life With Ease. He helps busy people learn the skills to get and stay organized and on top of everything at work, at home and at school using Projecteze: The Ultimate Organizational System. Follow Laurence on Twitter and Facebook.

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