Dabblers of everything – masters of nothing?

After this week’s great presentation by Andrew, Nancy, Jayme, Roxanne, and Ashley, I had to consider the impact of multi-tasking in our society.  Are we accomplishing more, or just fooling ourselves?

Ironically, as I type this blog, I have several tabs open (albeit they pertain to my blog), I am consuming my breakfast (it’s a write my blog at 5am kind of day…), but as for everything else (read: children, electronics) all is quiet.  This will be the most focused time of my day.

As soon as my kids wake up, I’ll be making lunches while making their breakfast, while brushing one’s hair, (you get the idea), so even if we take electronics out of the equation, I multi-task all day long.

In reading the article about email at work and productiveness,  I had to stop and think: is my email affecting how much work I am able to effectively complete in a day?  The answer I think may be yes.  As a Teacher-Librarian part of my role is to be a support person within the school.  I collaborate with others, gather resources – but I am also expected to manage the library and work within the Teacher-Librarian group to support with resources as well.  If we think about these emails alone (not to include the other resources from admin, boards, outside agencies…) anytime an email pops up when I’m in the middle of doing something else, I stop, evaluate and either deal with the email or deal with what is pressing at the time.  This takes time away from what I am doing at that moment in time.  So I wonder, if everyone thought about how they reacted to a new email, would their answers be similar?

In addition to the ironic wasting of time that inevitably happens while we multitask, I was reading that the increase in multitasking due to technology can have a negative effect on our brains, as it works to produce cortisol (the stress hormone) in our bodies.

Is it time we make a point to focus on Monotasking?


On the other hand…

I do have to say, this semester, I haven’t gotten all of my homework done at the peaceful hour of 5am.  Sometimes life doesn’t work like that, and I’ve hired a babysitter a couple of times so I can focus on getting through it.  The problem is, I proceed to a coffee shop during that time to work, and there are so many distractions, in addition to my phone and my computer, there is music playing, people coming and going, people talking all around.  Let’s be honest – I’m paying for the sitter, so this time has REALLY got to be productive!  So, in order to ensure I’ve been focused on ONE task (my homework), I have discovered that in a public place it takes two devices for me to focus, I have my computer running with whatever I’m working on ready to go, and then I found if I used my headphones and listened to music (classical instrumental)  I was able to drown out all of the distractions and able to complete a large chunk of work in that time frame.

Was it all in my head, or did multi-tasking help me focus?


I have heard more and more about being mindful recently.  I’ve heard it as a phenomenon in classrooms as well as people recommending adults give it a try.

I gave yoga a try recently, and the first time  I did it, they had a few minutes at the end where you are just supposed to lay there with your eyes closed – I’m not going to lie, my brain was going a mile a minute, what am I supposed to be doing?  Are people getting up yet?  What am I going to make for supper- you get the idea.  My second time doing yoga, I realized that this was supposed to be an excersize in mindfulness, and I was able to do what Andy describes in the video (just be present), I have to say I felt a lot more relaxed after I was done than I would normally feel!

After considering my days of multitasking, emails and brief moments of mindfulness, I have to wonder -would limiting how long our email is open for in the day help to decrease multitasking?  And should we be combating the urge to multitask?



13 thoughts on “Dabblers of everything – masters of nothing?

  1. What a well written post Amy! I think you really made me think about just how much we multi-task in everything we do. I feel like it’s quite the juggling act. I have found that I am more productive when I have more on the go. I need to focus more in times like that so I don’t have a bunch of tabs open unless they are pertaining to what I am doing. I turn off my notifications and I focus on the task at hand in order to get it done. Being back to work plus taking two classes this semester I have a lot to balance and sometimes multitasking prevents me from getting things done. I find I need to monotask more in order to be more productive.

    1. Thanks Ashley! It sounds like you already work to be self-aware and limit your multitasking as well. I’m not going to lie, I thought adding one more thing to my plate (yoga) might be stressful (also it’s just all of the things I’m not very good at wrapped together!) but right now, I think yoga is a quick, helpful way to de-stress and because all of the stretching and balancing is difficult for me, I still feel like I’m ‘being active’.

      Nice to know there is more than one person with young kids taking two classes and working too – we will get through this, I almost see the light! How many classes do you have left after this?

      1. I’m sure the Yoga was a great addition to your crazy schedule. Even though it’s just adding to your plate the relaxation that comes from it will be so beneficial! What a great way to relieve stress and escape the chaos of your day to day life. I should consider something like that. I try use the treadmill at home, but with it being a non-scheduled non-paid for thing I don’t use it as much as I would like to. When I do take the time to use it my mind feels so much clearer (as I write this I know the feeling I get when I run and I’m feeling guilty that I don’t take the time to do it…ugh) ha ha.

        These are class 7 & 8 for me. I’m hoping to do the same thing next semester and then I’ll be done. I’m hoping to get into 834 (?) with Alec and then I have to take EC&I 804 so I’m hoping they aren’t on the same night so I can take them both. How about you?

      2. Yes! Still fighting to achieve the “work/life/school/workout” balance (whatever that is)! This is 8&9 for me, and I’m also hoping to do 834 in the winter and then I’ll be done as well!

        Nice to be working and learning with you again!

      3. You two amaze me! I am taking 2 classes and working with NO kids and I often feel like I am drowning. Huge kudos to the both of you for tackling it all. I truly don’t know how you do it all! Where are you taking yoga Amy? I am not currently taking yoga (switched it up with spin classes at Wheelhouse which I love) but I used to take Warm Yin Yoga at Bodhi tree at 5:00 on Fridays. Initially I thought it was the worst timing for a class. Everyone wants to go straight home on a Friday after work, but I found it was such a relaxing way to end my week.

      4. Who knew taking two classes was such a popular option – are you done after these two Erin?

        As for Yoga, a friend of mine is working to complete her certification, so she is offering classes to complete her ‘training hours’ (for lack of a better phrase). The best part (and the reason I can make it work) is they are at 4 and at work – it’s been a really nice way to still feel active, but clear my head at the same time. Honestly, yoga is not my strong point, so I am surprised with how much I have been enjoying it!

  2. I like what you have mentioned about mindfulness. I have been talking to my students about being mindful and we are doing cool downs after lunch break before starting our afternoons. Like yourself in yoga, many of my kids are finding it very difficult to let their bodies do nothing and just relax. Important that we do practice this with our kids too. I also need to do this a little more myself!

  3. Great post Amy! You definitely hit the nail on the head with all the distractions that exist in our world, and how we really have to be mindful of what is around us, and purposely making sure we are creating environments that allow us to ‘monotask’ (love that word!) Not an easy task, that is for sure! In the end, I really appreciated your post, as did many others (as can be seen by the comments and all the pingbacks… I think almost all the blogs I have read this week have quoted yours!). Thanks again!

    1. Thanks Liz – I really think that we are in a space that we have to make a choice to ‘monotask’, if not, the day can certainly get away from us (well me at least). Right now, for instance, I’m supposed to be writing a paper for my other class, and I have gotten myself distracted with blogs, and anything BUT writing my paper!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment – I really better get to this other paper… 😉

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