The Strategy that’s Making You Crazy

One simple change can reduce your stress and make you more effective.  And you don’t need to hire a babysitter to do it.

Stop multitasking.

Oh, I know. We mothers think we can do this, right? No one has prided herself more than me on juggling multiple family balls at once. I’ve even derided my husband for not having the same ability.

However, recent studies have encouraged me to make some changes. The dangers of driving while talking on the phone are now clear. I’d rather not kill the kids in my carpool. So if I really must talk or text, I now pull over.

At the computer, I turn off email when I write. My browser also remains closed unless it’s needed for research.

But at home on a school night when one child wants help on grammar, the other’s internet connection has died and dinner needs cooking? Multitasking is my first response on stressful evenings.

So I was interested in Marcus Buckingham’s take on the “myth of multitasking” in Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently.

Summarizing his points:

• Multitasking makes you stupid. Buckingham cites a Hewlett Packard study finding that the average worker’s IQ drops 10 points when multitasking – more than twice as much as if he’d smoked marijuana.

• Multitasking makes you old and fat: Doing multiple things at once increases the stress-related hormones cortisol and adrenaline. This wears you out, speeds up aging and, says Buckingham, can even increase belly fat.

That’s enough to give this whirling dervish pause. From experience, I know that drilling spelling words while making pasta and worrying about Wi-Fi can definitely make a woman witchy during the dinner hour.

So tonight I have a radical plan. I will put off all requests regarding homework and technology snafus until after dinner. Then I’ll address them one at a time.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

What about you? Are you trying to regain your focus? Is multitasking a useful strategy or a bad habit? Is it even possible to do one thing at a time as a mom – especially between 6 and 9 p.m.?

Please comment here!

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Photo Credit © John Takai/Dreamstime.com

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About Jennifer

A former journalist for The Wall Street Journal and Time, Jennifer is the award-winning author of Beyond One: Growing a Family and Getting a Life and pens the MidAge Mom blog.

She’s profiled exceptional women from the Middle East to Latin America. Widely published, her essays have been included in two anthologies.

Jennifer is also a frequent radio and TV guest. Full Bio

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In Beyond One, Jennifer chronicles her leap from one child to two, describing the enormous impact the second child has on a woman’s body, marriage, family life, friendships and work.

"Hull is the kind of woman many moms long to be friends with. . ." -The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Credits

The Wall Street Journal, Time, The Atlantic Monthly, CNN.com, MS., Parenting, Real Simple, Salon.com, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Working Mother, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, American Way, Brain, Child, The Christian Science Monitor, and more.