10 March 2008

Multitasking is a myth

It finally hit me today. I have heard and read others say that, but never put a lot of credit into it, because "Hey, I do it all the time". Well, today that perception came to end. I was on a call with a client connected to their computer via WebEx, doing performance testing via RDP, on IM with 2 colleagues and talking with another in my office. I could feel my stress level rising.

I had the epiphany. "Holy Moly! I can't be doing all these things." And I was right, I wasn't. I was oscillating rapidly back and forth between them all and realized I was not doing any of them well. I was missing key facts/parts of each and having to retrace my steps. I caught myself, stopped and told everyone to hold on a moment.

I told the person in my office, I would talk to her when I was done and she was fine with that. I focused for a minute and answered the question on one IM. I asked the other IM to wait a few minutes and I would get back with them. I put the performance test on hold and finished with the client.

My stress level dropped, I got everything done and I'm sure done better. I need to catch myself more often and be more cognizant of what I am doing, since "trying" to do many things at once is my natural tendency.

Here is a great post on ZenHabits from last year that I went back and re-read with a newly discovered appreciation.

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