I agree with those who believe that focus and discipline are fading into oblivion… sadly. I don’t think that precludes multitasking entirely though. I’ve always been a big multitasker, to my pleasure & productivity and my detriment. Raise a hand if you understand extreme exhaustion at the end of a day. It can feel like living a few days within one twenty-four hour period.
These days I am trying more of a passive kind of multitasking. For me, the trick has been simply utilizing the deadspace inherent to an activity by placing other activities in that deadspace.
Example: Put dinner in the oven and then take a shower. There’s nothing you can do for that chicken in the first 30 minutes after it goes in, so why not go and take that shower?
Even better: Transfer the clothes to the dryer, then put dinner in the oven, then take a shower. Three things you need to do, happening all at once, with no extra stress on you, for the cost of two minutes of planning.
How about this one: You really need to make that phone call and you know it will go long (admit it), but you also have quite a bit of work to do and you need to prepare for it. Why not do the prep work first, then have your conversation? Now that you’ve gotten everything off your chest and your mind is free, you don’t have to waste that wonderful clarity on prep work, you can dive right in.
Being organized helps here of course. You need to know what you need to get done and plan your time accordingly. This should not be a cause of stress for you. If it is, you’re doing it wrong 🙂.
Stop and be honest with yourself about the things that require you to be fully mentally present. These are the things you don’t multitask with. These are the things you actually make time for by passively multitasking. Make that time. Deep work awaits. Relaxation awaits. Family time awaits. All the things you just couldn’t time for await. It’s up to you.