At the beginning of my career, I wore “multitasking” as a badge of honor. Working in a call-center, I answered calls, email, and entered data, seemingly simultaneously. I mean, I really did it sometimes!
As I interviewed for my next few career positions, I remember the inquiries about my experience with successful multitasking. I believe the expectation our society has on multitasking in our work and personal lives negatively effects our being.
My husband will laugh when he reads this post. I’m pretty sure he has deemed me the “queen of multitasking”. For years, we have joked that my ultimate goal in life is to be efficient. Was I trained to be this way? Is it part of my personality? Have I surrounded myself with people that operate this way? Probably all of the above.
When it comes to multitasking, what I have personally experienced is distraction. I don’t know how to be present when I’m doing two (or more) things at once. If I’ve been trained to multitask, and I’m wired to be efficient, and everyone around me is doing it, AND society asks me to do it… No wonder it’s hard to practice being present! When I’m multitasking I’m distracted most of the time.
The “Great Googly-Moogly” came up with a few results when I inquired: is multitasking possible 2020. Some interesting articles included: How Multitasking Affects Productivity and Brain Health, How Multitasking Erodes Productivity And Dings Your IQ, and Multitasking: Switching costs.
A major focus during my sabbatical in 2019 was to practice being present. Even though I figuratively had all the time in the world, being present was a struggle. Slowing down felt like work. After probably more than a decade of being one-the-go-all-the-time, I needed to employ discipline to be still and aware.
I have always loved baking. Mixing ingredients. Following (or deviating from) a recipe to create something new. Anticipation and challenge. The fruits of my labor. I love it all!
It wasn’t until my sabbatical that I realized baking is a mindfulness practice. When I bake, it is an opportunity to slow down and be present. It becomes a meditation.
- Read the recipe
- Collect the ingredients
- Review the recipe
- Measure the ingredients
- Mix, combine, be present with the ingredients
- Check the recipe
- Check the progress
- Review the outcome
I realized that is another reason I love it so much. I get the chance to be fully in the moment.
In case you were wondering, I am not always present. When I am distracted, another egg goes in, or I forget if I doubled the recipe, or I completely skip adding sugar (which does not turn out well, by the way!) All of those things have happened to me in the last two months while baking. I am still practicing how to be mindful with baking. Every time is a blank slate, and I get to try again.
Will I ever completely abandon multitasking? Probably not. But I’m being intentional to practice more of being present than multitasking. I want to live my life with more mindfulness and less distractions.