Multitasking vs. Multi-thinking

Do you multitask to save time?

Multitasking can be great to save time. It can even increase energy when used well.

But if you confuse multi-thinking with multitasking you will waste time and increase stress.

Multitasking works well when you combine something that can be done automatically, i.e. without thinking, with something that requires your attention.

You can for instance use your commute time for more than transporting yourself; by reading on the bus or listening to a podcast in your car.

This type of multitasking can also be used to compensate something you may not enjoy that much with something that makes you happy. Like singing while vacuum cleaning.

This type of multitasking can save you time and increase your energy.

Multi-thinking on the other hand, is when we try to combine two or more things that require our attention. Instead of doing two things well, we will end up doing two or more things poorly. 
Woman cooking and talking on the phone. 
Photo by James Cook Media

Like participating in a brainstorm meeting at work and answering mails at the same time. 

Or talking to your child about how her day at school was while paying your bills.

Not only are you fooling yourself about the time saving part. You are not saving time when you shift your focus back and forth, back and forth. Interrupted focus is not only inefficient, it also makes you feel stressed.

You will have a hard time finishing things, especially finishing things in a way that is satisfying.

And trust me, people, especially children, notice the difference between your full and caring attention and distracted, half hearted conversation.

To get things done and be truly present in your life, combine activities you can do without thinking but focus your attention on one thing (or person!) at the time.
 In other words: multitask, don't multi-think.  

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