Multi tasking – talent or setting yourself up for failure?

How’s the multi tasking going? Are you still, like me, juggling many different tasks, home schooling, working from home, side projects and keeping the house in some kind of order? Doing lots of things simultaneously is something we as parents do every day, and we do it in jobs, too, but, if like me, you have recently been feeling the strain of being everything to everyone and that you may want to ask an octopus for some of his arms, then questioning the validity of multi tasking is a reasonable thing to do.

A wise woman and friend of mine, Nicky Masson, who has set up her own coaching business to help business owners achieve better results, recently revealed in a talk of her Make It Happen Membership group that multi tasking is a myth which, despite being heavily featured as an attractive bonus on CVs, is totally unachievable and also unhelpful.   I am guilty of calling myself a successful multi tasker on a CV in the past and I probably can juggle a lot of things at once. Am I going to do a good job though? No. For example, if I am cooking, looking after the kids and simultaneously writing work emails, then I will either burn dinner, one of my kids will break something or the house will descend into chaos, or I will lose focus on my work.  I can do it all – badly.  Or I can do one thing at a time – well. Nicky talks about setting time aside to do one task, concentrate fully on it without distractions – and do it well. Then move onto the next task. I think back to previous jobs I have done, doing dozens of things at once, never having a quiet moment, being interrupted all the time and never seeing anything quite through to the end. No wonder that little mistakes creep into the work of the best of us – I am not bragging, but I am quite efficient and can handle a lot on my plate but get frustrated when I can’t do it really well.

Hearing that multi tasking is an unachievable myth was a revelation for me, something so liberating I will forever be grateful for. I have been feeling like a failure for so long, but we were never meant to be able to do it all. Not as mothers, not as bosses, not as employees, not as human beings. The sooner we take those unrealistic expectations from us, the better.

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