Leeja Carter

Leeja Carter

The Inner Athlete


Motivation to Multitask

Why may one take a multitasking approach to work, family, or career?

Posted Nov 24, 2010

As I prepare lazily for my gym workout, I can't help but to notice a fair percentage of this cardio killing population that, while tackling their caloric goals, are engrossed in their handheld cellular devices. Are these cardio carb-busters actually texting, Facebooking, or emailing while burning fat? Yes! However, then one must question the quality of their workouts; if they are engaging in a second activity simultaneously are these dual-taskers reaping the psychological as well as physiological benefits available from their physical activity? Such a question is proposed when considering dual or multi-tasking activities.

Why the multitasking approach? Perhaps multitasking serves a purpose for us: for those driven by action, success becomes measured not only by the quality of one's achievements, but in the frequency and speed at which those achievements are completed. Such weight placed on frequency and speed of action paired with general task performance (e.g., high quality and efficient completion of each task) can develop into multiple task management. Secondly, we may feel that the more we take on, the more efficient we are (pressure from multiple tasks equals more efficient behavior), therefore, multitasking becomes a source of intrinsic motivation as well as competition; we begin competing against ourselves (e.g., stretching our ability to perform) and our multiple tasks (e.g., constantly providing tasks to challenge us) which provides pressure yet motivation to continue engaging in our work, career, and/or family hustles.

Lastly, as we complete a task on our laundry list of "to-dos" we feel a sense of relief, gratification, confusion, and hunger (we want more... where's more!), causing us to refill that cup of tasks. Just as athletes will set new challenges for them to meet, thus maturing their athletic ability, so too can be true for the mother, worker, or student whose challenges are seen in the daily grind of tasks met, completed, and refilled daily; as a task is completed, the development of performance-specific tasks (e.g., tasks relevant to an individual's career, family, educational goals, etc.), serve as challenges that potentially mature one's skills within their particular realm of performance.

As a multitasking generation who utilizes cell phones, laptops, ipads, ipods, social networking sites, twitter, and everything else to assist in their multitasking ventures, the proposition then becomes, how not to avoid multitasking, but optimize it! My advice: First, set realistic goals for multiple daily tasks. Do not compile a list of "to-dos" for your day that cannot realistically be met. By setting realistic daily goals, the completion of these goals will allow you to feel relieved and confident in your ability to handle multiple tasks. Second, view your tasks as welcomed challenges for which you are able to confront, mediate, and tackle; moreover, see the multiple tasks as challenges that can be met through use of task-relevant resources such as, inviting the use of technology, the Internet, friends, or co-workers to assist in tackling your tasks. Lastly, negotiate quality time into your day or week in order to appreciate time away from the multiple tasks and lists. Although multitasking can be useful, allowing time for you to refuel and relax should be a practice.

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