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Do We Multitask Too Much?

Do We Multitask Too Much?

We're happy to present this article from one of our favorite sites, Yahoo! Shine:

There's a really interesting piece at Work It, Mom!, about unitasking instead of multitasking, and it got me thinking. Maybe part of the reason my stress levels are off the charts right now is because I'm multitasking too much?

Unitasking is kind of at the root of the whole Fly Lady way of cleaning and decluttering — focus on one task, do it for a set amount of time, and then move on to the next thing. I can see how easily it works in terms of doing the laundry or tidying up the house, but could I apply it to my to-do list? Or, better still, my hours at the office? Keep reading to hear how I fared.

I tried. Really, I did. But the unitasking mentality doesn't jibe with the "handle things at once" mentality that I have to have at work. I think that's because my day job isn't in a typical office -- it's at a newspaper, and information rarely comes in on a set schedule, even if you're not dealing with daily news. What if I call someone to fact check a story, leave a message because they're not there, and then move on to the next task only to get interrupted when they call back? What if I work on editing a piece for a later edition, only to get a last-minute submission for the edition I just finished working on? In order to be (or to stay) productive, I feel like I have to have several things going at once.

And then there's technology: My job is easier if I keep multiple browser windows up -- my company's style guide in one, a dictionary in another, the almighty Google in a third. But it's just as easy to open up a fourth and fifth window, and keep Facebook (my far-flung support network) and Twitter at the ready as well. And that's in addition to email accounts (yes, plural) and page design programs (yes, plural).

Researchers may insist that multitasking is a myth, but I'm sticking by my own theory: Multitasking is how busy parents manage to keep their work-life juggle going, even if we unitask from time to time.

Do you multitask, unitask, or both? What works best for you, and when?

— Lylah M. Alphonse

Related links from Yahoo! Shine:
How much is your work worth?
Is "going green" for people with more money than sense?
Fed up with your job? Here are 5 ways to cope

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