The Myth of Multitasking

Hello. My name is Jennifer and I am a professed multitasker. I venture to say that 99.9% of all pastors are self-proclaimed multitaskers as well. Though that is possibly a significant exaggeration, I have more than my fair share of minister friends who have the same problem with “multitasking” as I do.

An article written by Sanjay Gupta, MD shares that only 2% of the population are true multitaskers. These are the genetic superheroes that can not only do multiple things at one time, but can also do it all well! That is where the rest of us fall out of super hero status. We do not have the “brain bandwidth” to be effective and perform well. It is less about time and more about capacity.

Armed with facts that demolish my multitasking belief system, I invite you on an endeavor to move beyond the mythical multitasking methods that have hijacked first world humanity. 98% of we humans cannot multitask and lead well at the same time. If we are to lead people well, then we must learn to maximize our moments with them. Here are a few simple principles to help you quit multitasking cold turkey.

1. Be present

My husband and I have developed this habit of Googling quandaries in the moment. Last night during dinner it was asked, “what kosher salt was?” Immediately a phone is whipped out and Googling proceeds to occur. Our daughter says, “Oh! Dinner is on you tonight!” We laughed and learned that at her foster home the rule is that the first person to pick up their cell phone from the middle of the table has to pay for dinner. I LOVE IT! We will certainly be implementing this in the McAfee home. We cannot be fully present when our attention is divided. So, put the phone down and be present in the moment with the people that surround you.

2. Listen

This habit has been the hardest and most rewarding to implement. As most professional communicators, I am rarely at a loss for words. I am constantly a quip ahead, ready to give “profound” words before another is done speaking. To those I have ignored mid-conversation, I am truly sorry. We must stop preparing our next verbal on slot at the expense of hearing what someone is sharing with us. Words are windows to the soul, and we usually are fogging up the glass with a lot of hot air instead of peering through as people unveil their mind, heart, and dreams.

3. Reflect

Do you have a hard time shutting your mind off so that your heart can hear? Practice the art of reflection. My husband and I learned this gem in therapy. When one is speaking, the other intentionally listens, and then reflects what is heard in the hearer’s own words. It may seem silly, but how often do you scoff at people who are able to tell you what they heard you say? Yeah, I like to be heard too.

4. Respond

A seemingly small gesture will brighten a day. Write a card of encouragement concerning what you heard. Send a text a few days later communicating that you are thinking and praying for your friend and their dream, fear, circumstance, or joys. The bottom line is to place others before self. We all are busy. The truth is we should never be too busy for each other.

Romans 12:9-10
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 

[image CC Ryan Ritchie: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ryantron]

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