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Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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Uni-tasking: do more, by doing less

I stood in the kitchen, bleary-eyed and half asleep, trying to get a good start on my day - and by good start, I'm referring to my daily ritual of frantically attempting not to get any further behind than I already was the day before. So, in order to cram as much Doing into my morning as possible, I started making coffee while I checked email on my phone.

My multitasking scheme was working great . . . until, in my distracted state, I overfilled the coffee pot. As I read the latest super-important Groupon offers for discount skydiving lessons and bulk batteries, water flowed over the edge of the counter I was leaning on, and down my pant leg.

While I sopped up my mess, I wondered how much time I'm really saving by being so "efficient."

I wondered about it later, too, when I stumbled and almost busted my head open because I was trying to comment on blogs on my phone while I vacuumed - because heaven forbid I JUST DO ONE $%&@ THING AT A TIME.

Either way, enough is enough. I'm through multitasking. It isn't helping me get more done, and apparently, it's messy. And dangerous.

From now on, I'm uni-tasking. Who's with me?

uni-tasking-Robyn Welling's call to inaction @RobynHTV


Yes, uni-tasking!

Next time you start to do two things at once, do something instead that would probably be considered revolutionary in our do all the things culture: just do one of the things! Then - here's where the plan gets really wacky - do the other thing, after you've finished doing the first thing.

I know, it's crazy, right?

When I finally focused on my post-concussion vacuuming I realized that, by splitting my attention, I'd been doing an even crappier job of cleaning than usual. It's sort of a waste of time to vacuum when you're so distracted that you sweep the hall for 30 minutes, yet completely forget you have a living room.

Likewise, I have to admit I don't write very coherently while I'm talking on the phone, and (though I might try to convince myself otherwise) I don't really hear my kids' stories about Minecraft while I'm simultaneously scanning my Facebook feed.

My multi-tasking wasn't getting two or more things done at once - I was halfway doing them at best, and certainly not getting the most out of anything I was trying to do.

I'm not talking about making the most of your time - those people who want to shame you because you're checking your phone while your kid runs around the playground can cram it. No, I'm talking about those times when you think you're truly accomplishing two tasks at the same time. Because you know what?

You're not. And neither am I.

But you know what else? It's not our fault; multitasking isn't even humanly possible. Our brains can't handle doing things simultaneously, because you can only think about one thing at a time - so what we're really doing is switching our attention back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And every time your brain switches gears, it wastes time.

So, just when we think we're being really efficient, we're actually being extremely inefficient. In fact, research shows that multitasking causes you to make more mistakes, remember less about what you did, and can decrease productivity by 40 percent. These are actual, real facts I found on the Internet, people!

The next time you're feeling the pressure to get things done because there just aren't enough hours in the day, give yourself permission to try uni-tasking - yup, just good, old-fashioned doing one thing at a time. I'm going to give it a try and see if I can force myself to do less - and end up doing more in the process.

Even if I don't get more done, maybe I'll at least be able to keep my pants dry when I make coffee.



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