I wrote about multitasking recently and I have to apologise. I was writing for the lowest common denominator, which means I underestimated my audience.
Luckily, my audience is smart and wise enough to call me out when I spout nonsense.
I said that multitasking is bad and no one seriously advocates it. Well, I stand by the gist of that, but would like to make a slight correction:
Multitasking is awesome and I’m seriously advocating it.
And this is a big however…
The way 99% of people multitask ends up blowing up in their face.
The trick is not to start doing a bunch of stuff and hope for the best.
If you want to learn to multitask, it’s best to first learn to focus. I mean, really focus. Concentrate and clear your mind like you never have before.
Only when you can hold your attention on a single thought, sensation or task are you ready to truly multitask.
(Which is why “smartphones are great for kids because it teaches them multitasking” is wrong.)
When you can control your focus, you can then – and only then – split it without losing anything.
Some of your tasks will require more attention than others. Some will require the occasional check-in, with others needing more sustained focus.
All this means you have yet another thing to keep in mind. After all, you need to pay attention to how, what and how long you’re focusing on each thing.
This takes a lot of brainpower, which you have.
It also takes a quiet, trained and disciplined mind, which you may or may not have.
If you don’t have this, you’re better off doing one thing at a time. One such thing is learning how to properly guide your attention, because it is a skill like any other. It requires a gentle hand, patience and self-compassion to do properly.
You can learn all of that here: