Small changes make big differences.

Tuesdays with MOJO / My TMTM (tragic multi tasking mistake)

Marjorie Spitz RentoComment

Yin/Yang. Earth/Sky.  Life/Death.  Life’s pull has many dimensions.  

On Saturday I was party to two simultaneous text streams.  One was a group of 16 in-laws of all ages and centered on prom photos of my nephew looking very Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca. We’re still not sure how many dates he took!  The texts were complimentary, light, fun and beautiful.  The Rento’s have a fabulous sense of humor.

The other text relayed the horrible news that my cousin’s son, who was doing great work as an educator in China, was in a vehicle accident and on life support.  I never met him in person, but he is humble, adventurous, smart and making a positive impact on the world.

Talk about looking at life through a kaleidoscope!    With one turn, the view is full of color, beauty and awe.  With another, it is shocking, dark and unsettling. 

To add another layer of complexity, at the time I was out late for the first time since I injured my knee, seeing a friend perform with her band.  She was awesome and I was delighted to be there, regardless of how uncomfortable I was navigating the crowd on my crutches.

So picture this:  crowded place, live music, a glass of vino, nowhere for me to “stand” without being nudged, and my phone buzzing text after text.   I made the TMTM (tragic multi tasking mistake) of participating in both text streams and, you guessed it, sent a text meant for one to the other.  Worlds colliding!

I accidentally brought one group into the other’s tragedy, and with my stepson Jon (who had spent time with the injured relative while in China) on the stream, I was frozen.  This was not the way I wanted him to find out his friend was going to be brain damaged or die, and I certainly didn’t want to bring down the prom group high.

A powerful example of how multi tasking doesn’t work, especially when emotions are involved!

I wonder how many times I think I’m being efficient, juggling two – 10 things at once, and make a TMTM, instead leaving a mess in my wake.

My lack of being present Saturday while seeing my friend was surely felt by her, and those wanting to socialize with me.  I was distracted and it cost me in more ways than one.  My psyche hit the floor. 

Are you the type of person at work who is on a conference call, reviewing a report, shooting off emails, and texting a friend regarding your dinner plans?  Yeah, well studies show that you could lose up to 40% of your productivity if you multitask.  40 PERCENT!! 

Psychology research points out that, “We often make the mistake of thinking that being busy means being effective. And the busier we get the more multi-tasking we end up doing…the result is that you are actually less effective.” 

One study showed that “people talking on their cell phones while walking, ran into people more often and didn’t notice what was going on around them. The researchers had someone in a clown suit ride a unicycle. The people talking on a cell phone were much less likely to notice or remember the clown.”  Living in NYC I can related!

Frankly, your brain doesn’t do as good a job switching tasks as you think it does – you can only do one cognitive thing at a time.   The same is true at any age, so you young folks who think you’re good at multitasking, you’re actually not. So stop doing it (especially texting and driving)!

Focus on the big rocks, and tackle the high priorities first, one by one.  “Batch” your tasks and focus on them at once (i.e. your emails, your texts, your phone calls, an assignment, your bills, etc.).  When socializing concentrate on your companion (you can post on FB later).  Be present while you’re eating (mindless eating is a key contributor to weight gain).  If you need to step away from the task at hand to get perspective, then do so and come back to it.  But give your full attention to what you choose to do in between.

Not only will this make you more productive, but also it will reduce stress and improve your mood.

So consider, while you’re reading this blog entry, are you distracted by another task?  What else are you doing?  Ask yourself, “Would you be better off completing your task and then reading this (or vice versa)?” The data implies “yes.”  Plus you can avoid making a TMTM!

Just for the next 24 hours practice letting go of your multi tasking tendencies, and see what you gain.  Likely fewer mistakes, a more pleasant social experience, less bumping into people, and a calmer state of mind.

I, for one, will think thrice before sending multiple texts to multiple groups.  I vow to be more present.

I ask that you please send prayers for my cousin’s recovery – like the wonder of a kaleidoscope, perhaps together we could create a miracle.

Attentively yours,

Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™

 P.S. The read and article about reasons to stop multitasking, click here.