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Multitasking vs. Unitasking: No Contest

Busy guy with six armsWhenever the topic of multitasking is raised, so are my antennae.

I’m tragically aware of my inability to “unitask,” and like Pinnochio who wanted to be a real boy, I long to be something I’m not. In my case, I want to be present. Focused.

I want to be able to do just one thing at a time, and I’ll tell you why… Oh, there’s a YouTube video on how to peel garlic in 10 seconds!

… Where was I? I forget. Anyway, for this week’s post I thought I’d share with you a recent article by Peter Bregman. See if you don’t find yourself using it as an object for uni-tasking practice.

As I was reading Bregman’s post, my mental sleeve kept being tugged by the same niggling thought: “Isn’t there something else I should be doing right now?”

That pretty much always happens when I try to concentrate on one activity. It seems like there’s something I’m supposed to be doing, if only I could remember what it was.

Even making to-do lists doesn’t stop this from happening. Can anyone relate?

Many thanks to Timethief for bringing this wonderful post to my (limited) attention this week:

How (and Why) to Stop Multitasking – Peter Bregman – Harvard Business Review.

Photo courtesy of www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Tina Gilbertson

Tina Gilbertson is a psychotherapist, speaker and author based in Denver, Colorado. She specializes in supporting parents of estranged adult children through therapy, consulting and other resources, and offers assertiveness training and executive coaching for organizations. The author of "Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them" and the "Guide for Parents of Estranged Adult Children," Tina is often featured in the media as an expert on communication and relationships. Her blog on PsychologyToday.com is called "Constructive Wallowing."
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0 Responses to "Multitasking vs. Unitasking: No Contest"

    • Tina Gilbertson
      November 24, 2013 - 1:42 pm Reply

      Hey, thank you, Bookishheather! That was indeed the one I saw.

  • Miss Maura 9999 Charlotte, NC
    November 23, 2013 - 11:21 am Reply

    Tina Tina Tina, you have “busy brain.” In some people it keeps them from sleeping; in you, it seems to keep you from focusing on one task or thought. I personally have always had tunnel vision — that concentration on one singularity at a time. In fact, I continuously request of my darling husband of 31 years that he SAY MY NAME before he talks to me when I’m using my computer, watching TV, working on any kind of art project, or cooking. I may not be able to multitask but I can put my task on “pause” if my attention is desired somewhere else. I can’t tell you how many times over these past three-plus decades he’ll finish talking and I’ll smile sweetly and murmur, “You weren’t talking to ME, were you my dove??” Sigh. And since I’m not the CEO of a vast corporation I don’t *have* to multitask (as suggested in the other article Peter Bregman mentioned, by David Silverman). I believe that situation would be better served by delegating, any way. Concentrate, girl!

    • Tina Gilbertson
      November 24, 2013 - 1:46 pm Reply

      Yes, you nailed it, Miss Maura; I have “busy brain.” Think you could lend me some of your tunnel vision? It sounds like great stuff. One thing I have managed to do this weekend is to slow down a bit, which explains the slight delay in replying to comments on this post. I’m trying!

  • smilecalm
    November 23, 2013 - 7:30 pm Reply

    breathing plus one other thing,
    smiling

    • Tina Gilbertson
      November 24, 2013 - 1:52 pm Reply

      Wait… breathing AND smiling? At the same time??? 😉

      Thanks for dropping in, Smilecalm, and for your simple, lovely comment.

  • Em Jay
    November 26, 2013 - 4:03 pm Reply

    Hi Tina. I’m new here. Great post! I’m hopless at multi-tasking, find it very annoying. I like to focus on one thing at a time. I may not always finish the task, but it’s less stressful without constant interuptions. I can relate to pretty much all of what Peter Bregman mentioned in his post. Also I share similar ‘tunnel vision’ to Miss Maura.
    I remember what happened to the roast pork. Ate some for lunch, put the rest away. A couple of days later wanted some for lunch. Can’t find it in the fridge. Or the freezer. Several weeks later found it in the bottom of a kitchen drawer. By now, it’s 3 slices of crumbly green mould! Why put fresh roast pork in a drawer? Hmmm, must have been distracted. Too much kitchen multi-tasking methinks!

    • Tina Gilbertson
      November 26, 2013 - 4:38 pm Reply

      Welcome to the blog, Em Jay! Thanks for weighing in with that great roast pork story. It sounds exactly like the kind of thing I’m famous for myself, though I’m glad to say I’ve never actually placed a “refrigerable” item in a drawer without immediately retrieving it. Just lucky, I guess.

      I did, however, place a friend’s bag of trash in the trunk of my car on my way out of his apartment. I was supposed to drop it off in the bins on my way to the car, but instead threw it in the trunk and went home. Found it a few days later and spent a half-hour convinced that vandals had gotten into my car and left a bag of trash in my trunk, until I figured out what must have happened.

      Anyway, thanks again for stopping by, and please don’t be a stranger.

      • Em Jay
        November 26, 2013 - 5:52 pm Reply

        Oh dear! I can’t put any trash in my trunk as I don’t drive. Maybe its just as well, given how absent minded I can be. Put keys in wrong drawer – spend ages looking for them – use spare key for several days. Find original in different drawer – duh! Good thing I had a spare key or I’d have been locked in my own home!
        Oh, what about the time I electrocuted myself on the kitchen light switch after a fire? Then got stuck in the kitchen because the door was jammed shut after warping from the fire? It took me 2 hours to get out by chipping away at the handle with a small screwdriver and a can of beans. How embarrasing! I can laugh about it now though!

  • peaceofminddecluttering
    December 1, 2013 - 5:01 pm Reply

    I love the idea of slowing down and doing one thing at a time! Striving to keep a home or space decluttered so you can, well, declutter your actions is also very helpful. I also find it helpful to remember we have the opportunity to teach a new generation to slow down when they can!

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