1st Principle Group


Gospel-centered counseling, coaching, and training

Stop Stressing Over Multitasking

Ah, the much maligned multitasking. All leaders, whether they are faith-based or not - from pastors and ministry leaders to business leaders and professional service firms - doctors, lawyers, accountants, management consultants, financial consultants, other coaches and counselors - everybody is complaining about not having enough margin. They're time-crunched and overwhelmed. It's tough to get things done and they're dropping things.

But along with that, the popular time management literature bashes multitasking. So now you're overly stressed and made to feel guilty for trying to improve your productivity!

multitasking definition

"Human multitasking is an apparent human ability to perform more than one task, or activity, over a short period. An example of multitasking is taking phone calls while typing an email and reading a book. Multitasking can result in time wasted due to human context switching and apparently causing more errors due to insufficient attention."  - Wikipedia

For you multi taskers out there, some points against multi-tasking are good and valid.

Not all.

In some ways, multitasking can be fantastic.

You have heard it said that multitasking means you're not fully present in what you're doing. You're giving short shrift to important work, and the result is poor performance and exhaustion.

Maybe I'm the odd man out, but I've found that a couple ways where multitasking work for me:

Combine the Important with the Brain Dead

I love doing something that I need to focus on along with something that I really don't have to focus on. For example, I answer emails, journal,  develop content for the company, etc., all while exercising on the elliptical.

The activity of doing the elliptical is my brain-dead time. So I get great exercise while doing something meaningful.

Another example, if I do phone sessions while taking a leisurely walk, I'm MORE focused on what is being said, that I'm even sharper in the discussion. And I can still take notes on my iPhone, so I'm not losing anything by not being in front of my computer in the office.

Combine the hated with the Loved

This is the "spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down" idea. For example, I hate paperwork. Unfortunately, sometimes I'm the one who can do the paperwork I have to do.  No delegating for me on those. So I created a music playlist that I play only when I do paperwork. I get to hear what I want only when I do the paperwork.

Summing Up

Combining the important with the brain-dead exercise or the hated with the loved saves me a ton of time, and it keeps me productive. What do you think? I'd love to hear examples or other ideas where multitasking worked for you.