multitasking – the “dark side”

April 15, 2010                                

          If you are really “good” at multitasking then you are equally “good” at not “being present.”

          A definition will help: the multitasking I am referring to in this note is where you work to do two things simultaneously that require similar or near similar brain functions: talking on the phone and writing an email or having a serious business conversation while driving in heavy traffic. The multitasking I am not referring to is the day to day reality of handling multiple tasks over the course of a day or doing two divergent brain functions simultaneously, like talking on the phone and washing the dishes.   


1.)     How recently was it that you found yourself not listening to the other person in the very conversation you are in because you were either thinking of your answer or thinking about something all together different and just “checking in” from time to time on the present conversation while checking your i-phone for email?

2.)     Just last week I had an email exchange that clearly reflected that the other person was not totally reading the email in either content or in attention. I do find myself reading email from time to time just to figure out how to get it out of my “in box” and not really taking the time to reflect on what the originator meant.

3.)     Listen to people making a persuasive presentation. How many times do they circle back and repeat the same words they just said? Whose benefit is that for? Did they think we were not listening?

4.)     The other day I left my home going to a new place. I did not give much thought to the direction I should go until I drove for a while: I was thinking of other things and just driving the way I normally drive. Go figure: 5 minutes out of my way I come back into present time only to realize I have driven in totally the wrong direction. Wow, I even drive not totally present


For me the “dark side” of multitasking is that

  1. I do not listen well
  2. I do not read email thoroughly
  3. I make mistakes
  4. I am rude to others
  5. I do not act with integrity to others
  6. I do not keep my promises


Good time management tools have helped me to stay present in what I am doing because I know that everything else is “reliably in existence”.  Reliably in existence means I do not need to remember and be thinking of other things all the time because I have the events reliably recorded.

 The tool is a “recording tool”, a small notebook where I write down thoughts and ideas that come to me during the day so I do not need to remember all my great thoughts or promises I have made to people.  The tool also helps me be a person of integrity. I keep my promises and my declared intentions. At the end of the day, I have either completed the items I wrote down or I write them into my calendar for action. I start each day with a clean sheet of paper.



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