Confessions of a multitasker*
*If you’re short of time, here’s a quick summary – don’t try and chase two rabbits, you’ll end up with none.
Entering late for our time management course by performance coach Diana Jervis Read clearly highlighted this is something I needed to hear.
I have always held the belief that as long as I can tap my head and rub my belly simultaneously, then I can multitask. I believed this would get me further ahead. Just the other day I thought I’d call my mum while riding my bike whilst eating a curly whirly. This idea was a car cash (thankfully not literally).
Diana’s wisdom, however, shattered this delusion in one statement; ’Multitasking does not exist’.
The stress you think you have avoided by attempting to get everything done is overpowered by things poorly done. In an alternative world, Nike would say ‘Just Don’t Do It’.
This reality check made me wonder what my peers’ views on multitasking were:
Richard: ‘I can carry a baby in one arm and do pretty much anything… just not very well. So, Diana was probably right.’
Carlota: ‘I’m great at multitasking idk what she was on about.’
Matilde: ‘I’m really bad at multitasking, I think the most I can do is listen to a podcast whilst doing a boring task.’
Alex: ‘My life is one big multitask’
Isabel: ‘When I worked from home I used to have Netflix on the entire time, definitely didn’t get tasks done as quickly lol.’
Tanvi: ‘I often watch Netflix, video call my friend, and eat whilst doing photoshop work.’
Imi: ‘I spend so much time curating the perfect playlists on Spotify, that I totally zone out whilst trying to listen and work…’
Sounds like we’ve still got a couple of deniers in the room. It’s okay, the first step is acceptance.
With her statement in mind, Diana laid out her time organising tools.
Building for a good time – not a long, hazardous, stress, freak-out-to-burn-out time 😉
A spirit level- This is the division of tasks into four groups, allowing you to stay level and keep above the line focusing on urgent and important, and away from the time consuming, non-important and non-urgent tasks.
Eat the frog
A bulldozer – Clear away the day’s most difficult task first. In other words, do the job you least want to do first, then your rest of your day feels easy.
A helmet – Protect your week ahead by getting key events, tasks, deadlines, non-negotiable tasks in your diary so you can have an overview of what’s upcoming, where a potential clash may happen, and plan to find support or prep for it.
NLP Timeline Technique
A tape measure – If you know what the goal is, start from the end and work backwards step by step and until you know where to start.
Thanks to Dianna I have put these tools into use already, my diary is now looking like a scribbled storm of notes heading my way but I know where and when I need to bring my thinking umbrella.
The call to multitask remains strong but as our weeks at SCA are becoming more and more packed with multiple briefs. I am reminded by the fact that future me will be only more frazzled and further behind.
The root of all of these techniques lies in the ever important question of purpose. Dianna made this the first point of call when beginning her talk. Having a vision of what you want to achieve is crucial in guiding your work. Defining your purpose is what will continue your drive and inspire you. Finding moments where you have felt satisfied with your work and finding a pattern them. It could be money, it could be more quality time with loved ones, or it could be working on passion projects that teach you something new.
Purpose can mean a lot of different things to many people, my take away from the talk was
‘What do you want to be remembered for?’. I’m still trying to work this out but I hope that I am remembered as calm, collected, passionate about my work, and definitely not for uploading my work to the google slide 1 minute before review….
Luckily in Diana’s words ‘there’s still time to change’.
By Niamh McBride