A recent study published in the December 2011 issue of the American Sociological Review and described in USA Today shows that women do a lot of multitasking. Working moms multitask more than working dads (48 hours vs. 39) and when they are home, they multitask more housework than working fathers (53% vs. 42%). When multitasking involving childcare is calculated, working mothers beat working fathers once again (36% vs. 28%).
In fact, working moms spend two-fifths of their waking hours multitasking.
As a mother, this is not news to you. You do the dishes as you help the kids with homework. You play a game with the kids as you pay the bills.
But do you come out ahead?
Ann Bookman, from Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management, doesn’t think so.
As more and more women work full work schedules, they continue to do the bulk of childcare and housework. Of course the work loads are more equal than they were years ago, but women still do the lion’s share.
This creates stress.
“This incredible focus on maximizing productivity at every moment has tremendous social and public health costs,” Bookman said. “…If you take a sample and very carefully analyze the numbers, you can begin to see in very graphic terms that women are still the primary caregivers and we are asking them to do just as much in the workforce.”
Women think they have it all figured out. We just keep doing more. To make this possible, we multitask.
But there is a price.
Stress takes a toll on your health, your relationships and your productivity. You may think you’re getting more done, but eventually, you will crash.
The best way to relieve multitasking stress is to just do one thing at a time. One thing.
Just do homework with your child.
Just do the dishes.
Just pay the bills.
Focus on being completely present with one task.
Of course you won’t get everything done but that is the point. If you have to do two things at once, you’re doing too much. When you do one thing at a time, you must prioritize the most important tasks and let the rest go undone.
This is not easy. Many busy mothers believe that if they do less, they will let their families down.
How to End Multitasking
- Ask for help. Get spouses, friends, even your children to help out.
- Simplify. Prioritize your tasks and if something isn’t absolutely essential to your core values, let it go.
- Say no. Reduce your obligations to other people.
- Take care of yourself first. If you eat right, rest and exercise, you’ll be more productive when you do need to work.
When you multitask, you have the false impression that you are very productive.
Making the transition from multitasking to focusing on one task can be hard. Start by making a commitment to spend 15 minutes tonight doing one thing.
How have you reduced your multitasking?