“Make up your mind, woman!”
I don’t blame you if that came to mind as you read the title of this post. How is it possible to embrace and let go of something at the same time? Well, folks, I think I have found that thin line between multitasking and focusing on the work at hand.
It’s a very thin line that, I admit, I sometimes stray from.
Letting go of multitasking
While I was thinking about how to structure this post – and even as I write – I got rid of the usual online distractions. My Twitter client is not online. Facebook window is minimized. Instant messaging is offline (although this is usually the case for me).
In this sense, I have let go of multitasking: when facing a task that requires focus and concentration, multitasking just doesn’t work.
Some of you may disagree with me, but based on my own experience, the habit of switching from one task to another in speeds faster than even The Flash can manage leads to sub-par work. Sure, I can still get articles done. I can get “more” done by dealing with email, writing, chatting, etc. all at the same time, but at the end of the day, quality suffers.
That was a compelling enough reason for me to let go of multitasking.
TIP: When you really, really need to focus on writing, use your tablet if you have one. I call my iPad my distraction-free writing zone, and I do get more (quality) work done on it – as long as it is straight out writing.
Having said all that, how on earth can I even think of embracing multitasking?
Context is everything, folks.
While I avoid multitasking when writing, I do immerse myself in various activities in other situations.
One of the most important processes that a writer goes through is coming up with ideas for a piece. Then there’s deciding on an angle and outlining. For me, this takes longer than the actual writing; and more often than not, I get the best ideas, find the most appropriate angle, and come up with a decent outline when I am doing something else.
What’s this something else?
Washing the dishes. Sitting out in the balcony playing a brainless game on the iPad. Mopping the floor.
The same goes for when I am trying to untangle work-related knots. Multitasking works then.
So this is how I have come to terms with multitasking, an activity that has been praised to high heavens – and shot down more often.
How about you? Do you stand by multitasking? Do you avoid it at all costs? Or have you found a middle ground like I have?
Share your thoughts in the comments!