You’re on your computer and switching between the 10+ tabs you have open in your browser.
You’re driving and also texting or checking your email.
You’re talking on the phone and also playing on your computer.
These may sound like examples of expert technological multitasking, but you’re actually overstimulating yourself and causing distractions. You’re only half-performing or paying attention to each task, rather than fully focusing on a single thing. And it even has a name. It happens to the best of us: Technology-Induced Attention Deficit Disorder (TIADD). (I’d say I’d coined the phrase, but I’ve been beaten to it.)
Think about it. At work, you’re rewarded when you can fit more on your plate and, with some companies, quantity of work is sadly valued more than quality. At home, we can’t even sit through commercials when we watch TV without looking at our phones to distract ourselves. Even though becoming a more fast-paced and multitasking generation seems like a positive change, it’s really making us more overstimulated and distracted.
So what do we do? Slow. Down.
1. Use only one piece of technology at a time.
I know it’s hard. But if you’re going to watch TV, watch TV. Put the phone and computer away. If you’re going to talk on the phone, talk on the phone and give the person on the other end the respect they deserve by fully focusing on your conversation.
2. Do one task at a time.
Similarly, focus on one task at a time. If you need multiple browser tabs open at the same time, that’s fine. But focus on one task at a time. The Internet may not move as lightening fast as your mind, but you can wait two seconds while a web page opens. By doing multiple tasks at one time, you’re likely to forget what you were doing or where you left off, causing you to actually lose time by catching up.
3. Remember distraction isn’t worth it.
Especially when it comes to safety (think using technology while driving), multitasking really isn’t worth it. Even in an emergency, multitasking isn’t worth the price of a car accident or another dangerous situation.
What will we gain?
As a queen of multitasking, I know this sounds tough. And maybe a little ridiculous. And like we won’t be able to accomplish as much in a day.
But what we gain is so much more:
- Less stress.
- Feeling of accomplishment by fully focusing on the task at hand and finishing it.
- Better sense of awareness and being in the moment.
- More fulfilling relationships.
- Get tasks finished more quickly and with better quality.
See? Pretty awesome.
Sure, there are times in life where you have to multitask (Teachers and Full Time Moms, I’m looking at you), but for those blissful moments where we can focus on one thing and one thing only – especially when technology is involved – do your best to focus.