Multi-tasking, Half-A$$ing, Overwhelm & The Power of Saying “No”

We live in a society/culture where it’s incredibly easy to get caught up in the cycle of feeling the need to be increasingly busy, always ‘doing’ and overwhelmed. It’s somehow become a badge of honor for people to wear.

I’m here to tell you, over-busy and overwhelm do not serve you.

Busy does not necessarily equal productive.

Let’s break it down a bit--
Multi-taking: Science has proven that, in fact, humans are not capable of doing two things simultaneously. Rather, we have the ability to switch from one task to another very quickly. No matter how good you are (or think you are) at multi-tasking, you’re not. Because multi-tasking is a myth.

You’re simply giving a portion of your attention to one thing and switching another portion of your attention to something else. Nothing is getting your full 100% focus.
In reality, when you try to do more than one thing at a time, you are simply half-a$$ing things because nothing is getting your full attention. How many times have you had to re-do, or go back to something because you didn’t give it your full attention in the first place?

Think about it, you can’t give 100% to two different things at the same time—that would be 200% and you’ve only got 100% to give in the first place.

Now, are there things that don’t require your full attention that you can switch back and forth from easily? Of course. I can walk and chew gum at the same time or wash the dishes and listen to the TV or sing in the shower. None of those things truly require my full attention most of the time. However, if you are working on a task or interacting with someone important to you, they deserve your full attention (or at least a disclaimer that they aren’t actually getting your 100% if they aren’t getting your all). 

Overwhelm: Constant and consistent attempts to do a variety of things simultaneously can lead to overwhelm. Overwhelm can also be caused by a variety of additional/other things as well including (but not limited to):
-not saying ‘no’ or not setting healthy boundaries
-not asking for or receiving help
-buying into the idea that you have to always be busy or be doing
-getting caught in the “if I don’t do this, no one will” thinking trap (and never questioning whether or not this is true or if it even matters)

I challenge you to challenge yourself about all of the things you tell yourself you “have to” do.

The truth is, there is always going to be a never-ending list of things for you to do…but a constant state of overwhelm and over-busy is a choice. Let’s face it, if you are caught in the cycle of overwhelm/attempts to ‘multi-task’ (which is impossible), you’re probably creating more work for yourself.

As Ron Swanson from the TV show Parks and Recreation says, “Never half ass two things, whole ass one thing.”

What can you do if you are caught in a state of attempts to multi-task or in overwhelm?
1) Be Mindful and Realistic – You need to be mindful of the things and times you are attempting to multi-task and realistic about when you are allowing yourself to only give part of your attention to multiple things. Yes, you can probably check your social media feed while sitting on hold but maybe you need to turn your phone off for 20 minutes while you are working on a specific project so that it can get your full attention. Things and people that matter deserve your full attention or at least a disclaimer that they are not getting your 100%.

2) Ask “Really?”—Do you really need to do all of the things on your list? Do they all really need to be done right now?? Is there really no one who can help you? Is it really not going to get done without you? Is it really important that it gets done? Maybe the answer to all of these questions is yes, but it’s important to fact check yourself…REALLY!

Everyone is busy and everyone has things to do. Be sure you’re doing what you need and want to do and not just keeping yourself in a state of overwhelm and over-busy because you’ve convinced yourself you need to be doing everything.

3) Saying “no”- You have a right to say no when you need to. When you say no from a place of respect for yourself (and out of respect for others), it’s incredibly powerful. Do you need to say no to anything or delegate anything out?

Having the right to say no, and actually saying no, doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t ever going to have to do things you don’t want to, that’s not life. But saying no is a tool for you to help establish healthy and respectful boundaries for yourself. It’s about making compromise and ensuring you’re part of the compromise as well.

4) Be flexible- There will be times in your life (especially if you are in a space where you are growing/expanding/leveling up) where overwhelm and ‘busy’ will be a temporary reality for you. Be flexible and continue to check in with yourself about where you feel the need to try to do a variety of things at once and when you feel overwhelm. Overwhelm and over busy should be very temporary things and not a place you stay in forever.

5) Ask for what you need! Ask for help if you need help, ask for resources, support etc. Do you need to take a day off so you can clear some things off of your plate? Do you need to take a half day just to relax and give yourself a break? Do you need help? Do you need to give anything up? It’s important for you to ask for what you need as well as to receive/allow in what you are asking for.

Here’s to you moving forward empowered, focused and ready to #slayaway! 

Cassie Gaub