So I have a secret…I have 25 hours in my day instead of 24. Impossible you say?? Well, you’re right, but for some reason I didn’t get that memo. I cram so much stuff into my schedule each day that I really do need 25 hours to get it done! That’s why you will rarely find me doing just one thing at a time. Every morning I read half a chapter in a book – while getting ready for the day. Two minutes while I brush my teeth, another 4 minutes while I blow dry my hair. If I could read in the shower I’d do it then too. I organize and plan and list and squish stuff in every extra minute. I’m pretty good at, if I say so myself. In fact, I was a self-proclaimed queen of multitasking…until I met Dave Crenshaw.
The day I met Dave, my multitasking world came crashing down. I was at a seminar, and he was a presenter. The title of his presentation was “Multitasking is a Myth”. (Well, apparently he hadn’t met me yet, because multitasking was alive and well in my life!) He had us do an exercise that made us switch back and forth between two tasks. We timed ourselves doing one thing at a time, and then timed ourselves doing two tasks at a time. Wow. It took me 1 1/2 times as long to do the task when I was switching back and forth. He went on to explain that there is really no such thing as multitasking. Even computers can’t do it. They actually switch back and forth between two tasks rapidly, which is called switch tasking.
Okay, so I’m a queen of switchtasking. What’s so bad about it?? That’s when it started to get painful. I learned that when I switch back and forth, I’m making more mistakes and taking longer to do anything. I also learned that I’m not doing anything well. If I’m talking to my son about school that day while unloading the dishwasher and cooking dinner, I’m not being a good listener for my son, and the dishes and dinner will take longer than if I did them in a focused way one at a time. I realized I’d seen this, but had ignored it because I didn’t know how else to get it all done.
Dave to the rescue. He taught all of us on the Total Care Dental team how to organize our lives so we could get things done. Some of the pearls:
- I have one drawer that I throw everything from the week in- school permission slips, coupons for grocery shopping, notes from team meetings at work, etc. If I don’t have to deal with it immediately, it goes in there. Then I go through everything in that drawer once a week. That’s my time and I schedule it in. I only have to find a place for things and deal with little things once a week. Heaven!
- I keep an active to do list on my phone. That way if I think of something I need to do, it get it on the list immediately. I’ve heard in the past that you shouldn’t keep to do lists, because if your brain doesn’t have to remember you will get Alzheimers… well, maybe, but I’m keeping a list anyway!! If my brain doesn’t have to switch back and forth remembering everything, I can focus on what I’m doing right now.
- I give myself rewards. It’s a drag to work and work and work for something way out on the horizon – a big vacation or something you’re saving to buy. Give yourself a pat on the back and something you really want every day to keep you focused. My reward is that book reading time each day. But now I schedule it in and do only that. It’s amazing how much more I enjoy the book without toothpaste/spit drops on each page!
This is just a start, so I really recommend Dave’s book to anyone that wishes they had 25 hours in a day! It is The Myth of Multitasking by Dave Crenshaw. Quick book (only 5-6 hair drying sessions!), entertaining and so helpful. I think this is a huge problem in our crazy, busy world. So huge, in fact, that KSL Channel 5 News did a story about it and interviewed both Dave and I for the 10:00 news yesterday. Yes, I’m famous for having too much to do! (If you want to watch me on the news, here is the link http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=26018297&fm=most_popular).
Take some of Dave’s tips to heart and you may just find yourself enjoying life a little more, and needing only 23 hours instead of 24. Have a great switchtasking free week!
Dr. Michelle Jorgensen