Have you taken a ride on two horses, literally? Well I haven’t done that literally, but I have pretty much done that many times in my life.
Riding two horses is nothing but multi-tasking. Now, when I say multi-tasking all that would come to your mind would be to write blog post while tweeting while listening to music while eating a pack of crisps.
Or it could be watching soccer while vacuming your room while listening to music while …. well you can do multiple things literally.
Some tasks can be done in a multiple manner because that would be an effective way of doing it.
For instance while you’re walking outdoor or on a treadmill, you can listen to music (or a podcast to expand your expertise on a particular field, or radio news etc). Multi tasking in this case is making effective use of your time, since these two tasks don’t cross lines; they don’t affect each other, you can independently do these two tasks in a successful manner.
But there are certain tasks that seriously cannot be done simultaneously.
- Writing a blog post while talking to a friend on the phone
- Cooking while walking/jogging (that’s ridiculous)
- Watching soccer and do office work at home (many do)
- Mindless surfing of the internet while you have to be really doing something meaningful over there.
Well, the list can go on and on. But the point is, many people multi-task even the most serious tasks. Except the impossible ones like cooking while jogging, people are ready to take up riding on two horses.
Whenever I start a conversation with any of my friends or clients out there about multi-tasking I see a fair amount of people are for while quite a similar amount of people are against the whole idea – multi-tasking.
Multi-tasking can be fun, useful or can be a total time waster. So what does it take to successfully ride on two (or more) horses?
The ability, in the first place
Well, if you can’t handle two horses which are unique and are different by nature (even though they’re horses, each one is unique), don’t think about riding on them. You will be torn if you’re not careful.
Multi-tasking is dangerous, tiring and our brain is simply not designed for it. So if you choose to mulit-task make sure you’ve trained your brain somehow for it.
But when it comes to talking on the phone while driving, don’t even try it, even if you think you’re able to do it.
Even if you’re working on one task, it takes a lot of focus to make sure that you’re not sidetracked. There are so many distractions around that can simply carry you away.
Now you’re willfully putting yourself to be sidetracked. While you’re focusing on task 1, task 2 is a distraction and vice versa.
The end result? You will need to focus extra.
Crushing your brain
It’s been proved that it takes a lot of effort for the brain to switch back and forth between the tasks while you’re multi-tasking. I’ve experienced that.
When I work on only one thing, I can go on for longer. When I work on two or more things simultaneously and keep on switching back and forth between the tasks, even time I switch there’s a lag.
It takes a second or two (sometimes even more, I’m simply blanked out) to realize where I left the original task and what I should do next to proceed with that.
You see that’s a lot of work for the brain. The load will be much lesser if you do 5 tasks one by one in a serial fashion rather than doing all the 5 tasks simultaneously in a parallel fashion.
Multi-tasking – no matter how much I (and other bloggers and other scientists) talk about the negative sides of it, you’ll be still doing it; I’ll be doing it too. Its just that we’re in such a fast moving world where there are so many tasks that need our attention at the same time.
We have to make sure that we don’t jeopardize our own safety and the safety of others, thinking that we’re working smart by multi-tasking. Don’t try to use your time efficiently by answering phone calls while driving. That’s not safe.
But you can use your time effectively by listening to podcasts while walking, given that you’re walking on the pedestrian lane, or on a traffic-free road.
While at work, there’s no jeopardizing safety when you’re trying to handle all sorts of “work” simultaneously, but your being hard on your brain. So just be friendly with that organ, after all it is what controls almost all of your activities.