When you tell people you’re a multipotentialite, do you ever get this reaction? “Oh, but how could you get all of those tasks done at once?” For a long time I thought it was impossible to be a multipotentialite, because the idea of doing more than one thing at once was such an alien concept to me.
Once I accepted my multipotentiality, I started trying to cram as much as possible into my day in the belief that I’d be happier with more tasks to do. I had somehow linked being a scanner to multitasking.
You can probably see where this is going…
Did you say “huge burn out and overwhelm?” You’d be dead right.
I didn’t learn from the lesson the first time either, instead of deciding that multitasking was a bad idea, I came to the conclusion that there’s something wrong with me. Because after all, all these other amazing scanners out there are living their amazing lives with loads of projects going on in a day!
My day got filled with more activities, trying to multitask as much as possible and justifying my twitter / facebook / youtube switches while blog writing every few seconds with “I’m a scanner, that means I’m good at multitasking.” I checked out multiple time management techniques in order to fit more into my day, to be more productive. I refused to choose to the point where I refused to even choose one thing moment by moment.
This eventually led to a bit of a breakdown. At the time I was working in a supermarket and felt so frustrated and overwhelmed with everything that was going on in my life that I quit my job in order to get in on track. Depression hit, overwhelm fogged my head every single day and I experienced a huge identity breakdown. Worse, I was still under the impression that I needed to do more stuff all at once in order to be happy. And I wasn’t getting anything done.
Through this mass of depression and overwhelm, the answer hit me like a construction ball to the face. The very idea that I needed to do more stuff with my day was ultimately inaccurate.
Every single item on my big list of goals didn’t need to work be worked on every single day. In fact, that was the thing that was driving me to depression.
You don’t need to and probably don’t want to do all of those things at once. The simple truth is there are only so many hours in the day. There’s only one thing you can do in this very moment (as in this. very. moment. The moment you’re spending reading this sentence) and even if you’re flipping back from this article and twitter every 30 seconds you’re still only focusing on this article right now. Multitasking has its uses… sometimes. But not when you actually need to get work done.
Don’t spend time, spend moments
Contrary to popular belief, there is something you need to choose: What are you going to do in this moment? Even if you flip between interests every half an hour, every few days or every few years, choose what you’re going to be spending your moment. Then stick to that moment for however long you need to, and then change.
Actually getting this sorted was such a massive game changer in my own life. I actually started out using the Pomodoro Technique where I’d take breaks every 20 minutes or so. After 20 minutes, I was ready for a break and that was when I was allowed to check twitter or facebook. But after my break, I get back to work on whatever it is I want to work on, whether that was the first activity or the next one, always focusing on that one task at a time.
Try doing this next time you find yourself overwhelmed with too much going on: just focus on ONE thing for just twenty minutes. It’s not for the rest of your life, or even the rest of the day – just twenty minutes!
Have you confused being a multipotentialite with multitasking? How have you dealt with it?
Sarah Bates is on a mission to turn her life into an adventure! Her blog Everyday an Adventure documents the journey from unemployed bum to one of exploration, excitement and fun. She also obsesses over film making, roleplaying, improv and more. Knows where her towel is.