Funny how things change; the words multitasking used to evoke images of ultra-efficient people, holding conference calls, writing books, reading emails and preparing a dinner party for six – all at the same time.
EDITING CHICKEN AND COOKING THE BOOKS
Of course most of us, at least the people I know, never did get the hang of multitasking. Maybe this is because the people I know are normal human beings, who if they tried to cook a chicken and edit a book chapter at the same time, would produce nothing more than a page full of mistakes and a half-cooked chicken with a side of salmonella.
But were those multitaskers as efficient as they thought? It was believed that knuckling down to work on several tasks at once was bound to help you get more work done in the end. But were they really working on several tasks at once? Or were they switching from one task to another and back again?
Researchers say that multitaskers are really proficient at switching tasks, rather than performing tasks simultaneously, and lately, research has found that switching focus from one task to another makes us less efficient.
It takes time to regain our focus after we switch it, so instead of gaining time we are actually losing time.
THE CREATIVE WRITING ZONE
Have you ever noticed that it takes a little settling down time to get yourself into the ‘zone’ for creative writing? Me too? For me, this settling down time varies according to the time of day I start work and what I was doing before.
For example, if I switch from writing a script to working on my tax return and back again, I lose this ‘settling down time’ twice.
Every person is different, but personally speaking, I have come to realize that I am too easily led from one task to another. This means both tasks take a little bit longer and I am more likely to be left with an uncomfortable ‘unfinished’ feeling.
WRITING FICTION v WRITING BLOG
Since writing and building my own website. I have learned that writing posts for my site is very different to writing fiction. Both tasks require my complete focus and attention, but both tasks require quite different skills and energy.
I have found that I am more efficient and productive if I allocate days to complete individual tasks rather than mixing it up. I write full-time, so I might be writing posts for my site on a Tuesday then writing fiction on Wednesday.
At the end of the day it’s a matter of structuring your work the way that suits you best. If you really can edit and cook a perfect chicken simultaneously without poisoning anyone, then carry on multi-tasking, but for me, I’m taking it one day at a time.
For lots of ideas about making more time for creative writing there’s a really easy time management plan here.
Good luck with your writing.