I used to multi-task at everything and felt very efficient during the process and at the end. After becoming a mom, I thought multi-tasking was the only way I could get more done during my day. Boy was I wrong. Not only did I have more things to do, to think about, and remember, but all of these new things hardly ever related to each other or the existing things I needed to do before I became a mom. I tried but I couldn’t multi-task like I did before because it was no longer natural for me. When my daughter started to talk (a lot), I found it was even harder to multitask because I was getting interrupted a lot, sometimes during a task or during a thought process! I have to admit that for a while there, I was really disappointed with myself for not being as “efficient” as I once was.
Obviously, I couldn’t dwell in disappointment for too long and had to figure out a better way to get things done. Through my research, I learned that some researchers suggest multitasking can actually reduce productivity by as much as 40 percent! Yikes! I also learned that multi-tasking is defined as: Performing two or more tasks simultaneously; switching back and forth from one thing to another; or performing a number of tasks in rapid succession.
Some days, I think I am multi-tasking and being efficient because I do two or more tasks simultaneously when I am cooking or meal prepping. The switching back and forth from one thing to another, I learned was what was holding me back. I was constantly being interrupted or distracted by something else. I’m sure you can relate the following:
I would wake up to get a glass of water and end up putting away all the dishes that were drying last night. As I do that, I find one of my daughter’s cup and think to myself if I just let her use this cup for her milk this morning, I don’t have to put it away. I proceed to get milk for my daughter and realize she still hasn’t woke up. I then proceed to go wake her up and rush her to change her clothes and go to the bathroom. My spouse enters the kitchen and notices kitchen cabinets open with some dishes put away, jug of milk on the counter with an empty cup next to it, and an empty glass meant for my water. I’m very thankful that he realizes I am having one of those days and doesn’t say anything.
While I still do some multi-tasking to some extent, I’ve since changed my approach slightly. In order to get more done, I now:
WRITE DOWN 3 THINGS THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE THAT DAY
I realized three things is kind of my limit for time and energy. When I get my big three things done, I feel good about it and I know the three things I got done absolutely had to be done that day. I used to have a running to-do list of things I needed to get done but some of the things would never get done because it didn’t have a deadline. The combination of limiting the number of things to accomplish and putting a deadline on it has increased my efficiency tremendously.
LOOK AT ALL THE TASKS AND SEE SOME CAN BE DONE TOGETHER
The easiest example has to be in the kitchen. Rather than cutting vegetables every single day for dinner, I just cut all the vegetables for the week and store them in a container for later use. Another example is with baking, if I am going to take all the ingredients out, I am going to bake a couple of things and freeze them for later. This makes the most of my time and I can technically still “multi-task” as I whip together a batch of muffins while my banana bread is baking.
DO ONE TASK AT BUT ALSO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WAIT TIMES
I have no shame in admitting I bought my newest pair of glasses from Superstore. I never even thought of getting my glasses there until I saw a huge sign for 50% off glasses and you get bonus PC points. I wandered in and realized they carry a lot of brands that I have bought from other “legit eyeglasses” stores. During one of my trips to Superstore, while I waited for my prescription to be filled at the pharmacy, I was also able to order new eye glasses and did my grocery shopping for the week.
In conclusion, I can still multi-task to be an efficient mom, but I had to change the way I multi-task now. Most importantly, I cannot switch tasks that do not relate to each other. You know what I mean, like cooking dinner and then checking your email or watering your plants. Both of which I am guilty of in the past which led to burnt dinners. Stay focused on the task at hand and then move onto the next one!