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Multitasking: Help or Hindrance?

July 24th, 2010 12:08 AM by Lehel S.

Multitasking: Help or Hindrance? - By JoAnne Ceccarelli-Egan ***
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What is Multitasking?

Multitasking is when you handle more than one task at the same time or perform multiple projects on parallel tracks. Society now functions at a very fast pace and continues to move exponentially using many gadgets and internet sites. We are now connected to the world 24/7 and this instant information makes us feel on top of everything that is going on yet multitasking has been criticized as a hindrance to feeling happy.

In addition, Western society gives the message that to day dream wastes time and to be busy and productive is of value. To further, exacerbate this situation, you are encouraged to stay busy in order to avoid unpleasant thoughts or experiences. Initially activity does decrease your thoughts and worries and can be helpful when dealing with pain. The dilemma is that eventually the current level of activity is no longer effective and the pain gets more insistent forcing you to ramp up your activity.

Could Multitasking be a hindrance to you?

In an effort to keep stress contained, you get busier and your body learns to function in 5th gear and finds it difficult to slow down, relax and even sleep. Studies have shown that multitasking actually diminishes the effectiveness of performing tasks, increasing stress and activating the fight/flight response (To learn more go to Try a New Perspective Dec. 09 tip). Constant multitasking has been found to actually diminish brain function and kills brain cells. (David Meyer, Univ. of Michigan Study).

Multitasking Solutions

Is Multitasking the reality of your life? Are you caught in a cycle that is hard to break? What can you do about it? My first suggestion would be to become aware of it! When you are rushing, begin to distinguish when your life is full because that is your reality or if you are filling it up to distract yourself. During the winter, because I am more housebound, I sit at the computer often because I have forgotten what else to do to relax. Initially it is a habit I enjoy, but hours later I am wound up and not the least bit relaxed. What is it that you do?

If you are caught in the frenzy of multitasking, a good solution is to become conscious of what is happening at the specific time. It is helpful to be open to your thoughts and feelings and try not to evaluate or judge them. Begin to identify and label what is occurring and how you are feeling. For example, "I am thinking", "I am worrying", "I am feeling overwhelmed". You might also ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do I need to be doing this right now?
2. What could I postpone for a later date or not do at all?
3. What is the worst that would happen if I do not do it?
4. Do I want to do this now? If not, when?
5. How much time do I want to spend on it?
6. What motivates my behavior?
7. What would I be doing if I was not busy right now?

What do you do if, like Susan, the demands of life are real and you do have a great deal of expectations and responsibility? Have you ever considered making time to take a half an hour lunch break and go for a walk? Could you take a half day one weekend a month and spend it the way you wish? Is that too much time for "you"? How about just taking two hours a month? Often my clients tell me that they "can't afford to pamper themselves", yet they find the money to buy their children luxuries and the time to drive their children to every extra-curricular activity imaginable. What is wrong with this picture? When does "good parenting" turn into over indulgence at the parent's expense? What kind of modeling is being done here? Are you making another generation of multitaskers?

Does your mind race and have you forgotten how to relax? Are you conscious of what is happening in your day and your reaction to the situation? Are you honest with yourself? I hope that you will begin to be aware of the way you think and act and label it with "soft mental notes"**. It is my hope that after reading this article, you will become aware of when you multitask and question if you really wish to stay in 5th gear.

** "A soft mental note" is the nonjudgmental description of your feeling.
"Most of the time multitasking is an illusion. You think you are multitasking, but in reality you're actually wasting time switching from one task to another."- Boco Tjan - Professor at University of Southern California.
** To comment on this article or to read comments about this article, go here.

About the Author:
JoAnne Ceccarelli-Egan, LCSW shares positive strategies that will decrease stress and increase inner tranquility. Listen to her breakthrough CD which teaches you how to gauge your "emotional" energy and provides practices that help protect your inner strength. Develop holistic, healing methodologies that will empower you in self-improvement and personal development. Learn how to become more grounded while you create your own personal coping strategies.

JoAnne is an experienced and sought after lecturer. She has presented weekend Retreats at Our Lady of Calvary in Farmington, CT since 1991. In this capacity, she writes and conducts conferences, runs groups and meets with people for one-on-one counseling. She has prepared day long workshops for NASW and academic programs for social work students. She continues to teach Continuing Education programs and has begun presenting her Journey program to yoga studios, school teachers, businesses and local organizations.
* LCSW - Licensed Clinical Social Worker
* MTS - Masters in Theological Studies
* Certified Hypnotherapist

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Posted by Lehel S. on July 24th, 2010 12:08 AM

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