One of my favorite kick-in-the-pants books is Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit. Seriously, there are so many gems there, it’d be impossible to list all the takeaways. But one thing that really has stuck with me is the idea of giving up multitasking.
That’s right, give it up.
It sounds crazy — I mean, I’m a mom. I do everything with one hand metaphorically tied behind my back as it is, and now you want me to stop doing two things at once? Blasphemy!
But here’s the thing that I’ve really struggled with for a long time — when I try to do several things at once, I don’t do any of them well. And for someone with perfectionist tendencies, not doing things well can leave me drained where I should be fulfilled, and sometimes, depressed. It’s that persistent feeling of not doing or being enough, combined with not having any more time or energy to give.
We’ve all had those days — full to bursting with tasks and activities, yet at the end of the day when you ask yourself what you’ve done, you come up empty. You can tell me ‘done is better than perfect’ all day long, and for somethings, it rings true. But for others, it’s just not enough.
In The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp recommends a multitasking diet. For one week, give up multitasking in as many ways as you can. For me, this means no working during play time with Queenie, no reading while cooking, or working out, or eating dinner, and no audiobooks or music while I’m vacuuming or cleaning or just sitting. No constant smartphone attachment — just enjoying and performing each task with as much of my focus as I can give.
If, like me, you find that you have too much going on to finish everything you need to finish during the day without multitasking, there are two options for you:
1. Create more time buy getting up earlier or going to bed later. I don’t like this option.
2. Pare down your routine to the basics. When you have to prioritize, the things that matter come to the forefront. What can you cut out? If something can’t be cut, what can you outsource? Too often, my daily task list is chronological, because that’s the way I think. Listing things in order of priority requires a change in mindset, but in the end, my day is so much more productive.
Is the multitasking diet something you need? Have you tried it before? Let me know in the comments!