We live in a society where we think that more is better and that multitasking is the key to getting things done. However, when we multitask, we lose the ability to be present for what matters most.
Multitasking Leads to Mistakes
I will admit, I am a recovering multitask addict. I used to be on conference calls and respond to emails while at the grocery store. I thought I could get it all done at once. While it felt like I was getting more done, I came to realize that multitasking reduced the quality of my outputs and left me feeling exhausted.
In fact, data backs this up. Studies show that we are 40% less productive when we multitask and make two times the number of mistakes. While we think we were getting more things done, we just end up draining ourselves and our energy.
Essentialism vs. Multitasking
More importantly, when we multitask our clients, the people we lead, and especially our family and friends can tell we aren’t present.
In my conversation with Greg McKeown on my podcast, he introduced me to the idea of Essentialism. Essentialism is all about focusing on what matters most by identifying what is not essential in important moments. Instead of adding more and multitasking, Essentialism is about pairing things back to give your full attention to the things and people who matter.
My Greatest Challenge of Being Present
When thinking of Essentialism, I’m reminded of the day I found out I was pregnant with twins. My husband and I were already blessed with a five-month-old daughter at home and I was at the height of my career as a sports agent. Right before a big meeting with an important client, Doc Rivers, I discovered I was not only pregnant again, but pregnant with twins! I was going to have three kids in twelve months.
I was in a rush to leave that doctor’s appointment to make it to my meeting with Doc. On my way to the meeting, I was completely overwhelmed and distracted by this life-changing discovery. My mind was going a mile a minute, thankful for this special gift, but also unsure how my family was going to manage three babies at once.
All the while, I was also thinking about my meeting with Doc. He was in town for a game against the Hawks, and he only had 45 minutes for the meeting. I knew he was busy and needed every minute to discuss necessities. Bringing up the news of my pregnancy would only distract our conversation and eat into our limited time together. Doc would be thrilled for me if I’d shared the news then, but being present for him at that moment was my priority as an agent.
Find What Needs to Move Forward
When we think about multitasking vs. being present, I challenge you to not confuse activity with accomplishment. They do not go together. Every day try to ask yourself, what are the things you need to move forward that day? What are the essential, deep work moments inside of your day? Focus on that.
You need to recognize that multitasking is the enemy of being present.
More On Being Present:
- Episode 53- Greg McKeown on How To Think Like An Essentialist
- Episode 75- Cal Newport on 3 Steps to Declutter Your Digital Life
- Episode 113- Cleo Wade on Boundaries, Being Present, and The Power of Mantras
The Molly Fletcher Company inspires leaders, teams and organizations to kick-start growth. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working as a sports agent. Her company’s Game Changer Negotiation Training workshops teach businesspeople the framework for successful negotiating, so that you can close more deals while building stronger relationships. Sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter and subscribe to the Game Changers with Molly Fletcher podcast on iTunes.