The Myth of the Multitask

I’m a sit down and focus on one project at a time kind of girl.  It’s not easy when so many social channels, websites, and offline distractions are calling, but it’s how I roll. When  I’m asked by a potential client if I can multitask, I tell them, “no.” However, that isn’t to say I don’t get the jobs done. I just prefer not to do everything I need to do at the same time.

I think we’re supposed to believe that multitasking and having several tasks to do are the same thing, but they’re not. Every job, whether it’s housecleaning, food delivery, or social media marketing has more than one component. I’m not sure when it became impressive to tweet at the same time I’m analyzing data and dropping everything to update Facebook when I’m in the middle of a client call, but to me that’s just a lot half-assed working, without anything getting completely done.

As a parent I tell my 11 year old he needs to keep focused and finish one thing before he starts another. It’s a good habit, I tell him. But as he grows and gets on in the world, he’s going to be expected to distractedly do five things at once. I don’t want him to be a multitasker, I want him to be a finisher. I would much rather he’s someone who rocks at a completed task then someone who has 12 projects waiting to be completed because he’s expected to be and do everything at once.

We often talk about the many “hats” a community manager wears and it’s true. It’s a good analogy too. There are different looks for different activities, but  one wouldn’t wear a church hat  into a blizzard.  Nor would one wear all her different hats one on top of each other for fear of them toppling over. Hats are great, just not all at the same time.

If you’re going to call me and ask me if I’m a multitasker, I’m going to tell you “no.” I’m going to tell you I’m a doer. A completer. A person who would rather be great at a few solid things, than someone who can’t even finish one.Multitasking is a myth. Being unfocused is nothing to be proud of. If you’re looking for someone who can do several things at once, I’m not your girl.

When you multitask, are you truly getting everything done to the best of your ability?

Comments

  1. TXWriter says:

    Deb,

    Years ago, I used to be a big believer in multi-tasking. As you point out, the concept is sort of ingrained into our culture. Unfortunately, the belief that we need to do more than one thing at the same time (and do it well) causes us all a lot of unnecessary stress.

    These days, I’m like you. I focus on doing one thing at a time and doing that one thing well. I find I do better work that way and it’s less stressful.

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