Multi-tasking is one approach many take to make better use of their time. By doing two or more things at once, you will supposedly get more done in the same amount of time. But how many times does multi-tasking end up producing frustration instead of efficiency—especially when there are other people involved?
For instance, suppose I’m responsible for watching the kids one night. But while doing so, I also try to do a few things at the same time. Now, as long as the children are preoccupied, I may be able to focus on something else for a while. But as soon as they need me or want me to do something with them, my attention gets diverted. In itself, this isn’t a problem. The problem is that if it happens frequently, I may grow frustrated over their continual need for attention. And all because I’m not able to complete the other things I was hoping to do simultaneously. It’s not the kids’ fault; it’s mine. And it’s because I was trying to do too many things at once.
But if rather than trying to do multiple things at once, I choose to do just one thing at a time, I don’t have the same conflict. I don’t grow frustrated by being pulled away from the other thing I’m trying to do—there is no other thing.
For me, choosing to focus on one thing at a time usually results in a better experience. I can give more attention to whatever I’ve chosen to do. I don’t get frustrated in trying, but failing, to do multiple things at once. Frustrations in life are bound to arise without my help. So why set myself up for more of them by consciously choosing to try to split my attention.
Yes, that may mean I won’t get as much stuff done. But the quality of what I do will improve. Regardless of what I’m trying to do, fragmented attention is not an ingredient of quality. Choosing to focus on one thing at a time provides an opportunity to give my all to whatever is in front of me.
Choosing to reduce how much you multi-task may cause you to not get to everything you wanted (the overabundance of things to do is why you’re trying to multi-task in the first place, right?). You may even drop some things because you don’t have enough time for them. But in choosing to focus, you may not only be surprised at how much you still accomplish, but you’ll also experience a pleasant reprieve from the frustration that multi-tasking can create.