I love efficiency. I really love crossing things off my list. One of my favorite way to be efficient is to multi-task by incorporating a brain-focused task when I’m doing otherwise less-engaged physical tasks.
I listen to podcasts while I’m driving – and doing the dishes – and sometimes while I’m working. (Well, except when certain little ones protest too loudly.)
I was working this morning and planned to fully maximize my time. By which I mean that while doing some compiling and formatting, I had a great podcast on in the background.
When I’m working on something easy for me, like compiling and formatting, this usually works fantastic. I have learned quite a bit while doing what is otherwise not extremely mentally engaging tasks.
(You saw that coming, right?)
Today it wasn’t working.
I was so distracted that I realized:
1) I wasn’t getting anything out of the podcast and
2) the interview was actually causing me a higher level of stress than I already had.
What was up?
Well, I stopped working for a minute to think about that. Actually, I tried to push through it for a good 30 minutes. All I got was limited productivity and extreme frustration.
So once I did stop and think, I realized something that should have been obvious:
My brain was already consumed by some major changes in our lives.
And I had an epiphany:
I can only do one brain-engaged task at a time. (I know, stop the presses, this really is new information).
I did know that already, but I’d never stopped to consider the nuance of what that meant.
My brain was already engaged in working through our life changes. There wasn’t room for more input, without shutting down what I was thinking about. And in this instance, that wasn’t going to happen.
So I turned off the brain-focused information, and turned Pandora on to Jazz Holidays (because there is never a time that holiday background music is a bad thing).
Suddenly I was free to work again. Quiet is a good thing. If it’s not efficient in that moment, don’t do it.
Sometimes the way to be the most efficient is to do less – even of the things that are typically productive.