Lesson #7: There is an art of doing one thing at a time

About two weeks ago I tweeted that I had planned to write this blog post on multitasking. The next morning, my now fiancé proposed and I haven’t been able to think about much more than that, work and school since. We all have busy schedules, which is a good indicator that we all multitask.  It makes you ponder, is there an art of not multitasking?

Lesson #7: There is an art of doing one thing at a time.

Yes, at least for certain things. These past two weeks have reminded me that I’m not wonder woman. A good distraction entered my life, which made me prioritize where to direct my focus. As much as I love writing, I decided it was more important to spend my free time with my growing family.

I’m not the only person who possesses this belief. Tony Schwartz, President and CEO of The Energy Project, says multitasking is a reason why so many of us feel stressed at work. He wrote, “It’s not just the number of hours we’re working, but also the fact that we spend too many continuous hours juggling too many things at the same time.” To increase productivity, Schwartz recommends that workers organize shorter, focused meetings, pause before responding to emails, and take “real” breaks (Harvard Business Review, 2012).

The office is not the only place where we multitask. Another place is the car. This semester, my graduate school colleagues and I developed a public awareness campaign on distracted driving. We tend to think distracted driving is strictly texting; however, it constitutes more than that. The last time you ate your breakfast while driving to work you drove distracted. The last time you spoke to your passenger while driving you drove distracted.

My team’s research showed there is a significant amount of fatal risk to this form of multitasking. This might be a stretch to making my point; although, Schwartz alluded to this epidemic too. He wrote, “Do you make calls while you’re driving, and even send the occasional text, even though you know you shouldn’t?” (Harvard Business Review, 2012). Distracted driving is just another illustration of how multitasking is embedded in the American culture.

The next time you go on a job interview, consider sharing a different skill as your strength. Too many job seekers already use multitasking as their response. Thinking outside the box will make you stand out.

Read Tony Schwartz’s discussion in full here: The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time.

On another note, I promise that I won’t turn my blog into stories about bridezillas and wedding glam. Although, I can’t promise that you won’t read a post or two that has a wedding theme. I am sure I will learn many life lessons as I plan my wedding.

Did you learn this lesson? Share your story in the comments section.

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