I SUCK at multi-tasking. Can’t do it, period.
There – I said it and it’s out in the universe. This is a huge risk for a mom to admit publicly, especially a mom who makes her living helping other women find their own balance. But, I cannot proofread a freshman English essay while taking a conference call and making pancakes. Invariably, the smoke detector goes off, the kid misses the bus, and I’ve inadvertently “volunteered” to travel to Omaha next Tuesday for a 3-day conference.
According to Stanford University research, referenced recently in entrepreneur.com, multitasking may damage our brain and can actually lower our IQ! So, perhaps this confession of mine means that I’m actually smarter than I think!
The study specifically looked at multitasking at work and aided with the use of technology – emails and internet use on our smartphones while trying to concentrate and be productive. In my life, however, that’s not my exact issue.
My problem is trying to wear too many hats at once. It’s more than juggling being a mom and a business owner. I require a haberdashery full of hats: pill-box to lead the women’s networking group, wide-brimmed to run errands, hard hat to write the customer proposal, visor to go bowling with my husband, stocking cap to cheer on son at his wrestling meet, and a fedora to write the great American novel. You get the picture.
Moms in particular find ourselves playing several “me” roles at a time – each role requiring a different hat. There is this illusion we perpetuate – being a super-mom means we can have it all and be it all – 24/7. But, we know the reality and it’s been proven – trying to do too many things, fulfill too many roles as the same time means we’re only doing things part-way. Nothing gets full attention. Nothing gets completed. Our anatomy is clear – we only have one head. We can only wear one hat at a time.
I often joke about my lack of multitasking ability. I look at other moms and envy them their put-together lives. Their cute little baseball caps with their perfectly smooth ponytail falling gracefully out of the back opening. How do they find the time to make organic baby food, jog 3 miles a day, attend every single basketball game, climb the corporate ladder, go on dates with their spouse, and serve as president of the high school booster club? My family cannot have clean clothes, a fridge full of food and a clean house all at the same time. Just can’t do it – something has to give each week. And that’s just the “household” hat I wear! It’s the same with each of my hats: I can’t keep up with my blog, be active in networking groups, create and give presentations, respond to email, maintain my accounting records and coach client groups simultaneously. It’s too much for my brain to handle – the working mom ADD, if you will.
So, thanks to this Stanford study, I can finally stand up and admit that I am multi-tasking impaired. I own it. And if doing one thing at a time improves IQ, I’m grabbing that floppy Mary Tyler-Moore beret and tossing it in the air!
Balance Tip: When I’m in overwhelm, I literally stand in the middle of my kitchen and spin in circles – just like a five-year-old. Believe it or not, that actually helps me get back into focus! It shakes my brain a little and makes me catch my breath. It forces me to be present – a bit nauseous, but present. (Added bonus is that it freaks the hell out of my 14-year-old son!)