As mothers we multitask. It’s just how we roll. And for years, society has hailed us for this ability, calling us super mums. You can easily stumble upon countless articles supporting the notion that women are more superior at this than men.
It’s actually a myth that’s been debunked by a study that was published in August 2019, about the case of gender differences in multitasking. According to the study, the brains of women and men are equally strained by multitasking. So, we are not really better at it than anyone else is. Mind-blowing fact, I know. However, we’ve programmed ourselves to do it more. How else are things going to get done, right?
The truth is though, multitasking takes a lot from us, more than what we care to think.
By running on auto-pilot you are not fully enjoying life’s little moments. Your mind is often wandering off to the next task while you’re having a meal with your family. You may be in the same room with them but there is no intent to fully engage, simply because your mind is preoccupied with your mental to-dos.
But what does it really cost not to be present?
Have you ever looked at a picture of a younger version of yourself and thought if only I knew how well I looked, I wouldn’t have been riddled with so many insecurities? That was because you were not living in the moment. You spent your time worrying about everything that was not right and forgot to capitalise on what was right. That is what happens when you don’t live in the moment.
If you’re not experiencing each moment of your day, with focus and intent, you can’t fully enjoy and appreciate what’s happening around you. Time will pass and you will realise how you missed a lot of opportunities for creating precious memories, because you are wrapped up in your to-do lists.
Besides denying yourself the enjoyment of what the present moment brings, the habit of multitasking also takes a toll on your overall well being.
This study shows that multitaskers had reductions in their brains’ grey matter—specifically, cognitive control and the ventral tegmental area (VTA) which regulates motivation and emotion. Plus, there are many other health conditions attributed to chronic multitasking.
Practise Being Present
Your full work schedule and endless mummy chores, will not make it easy for you to shake off your need to multitask. This is where you need firm boundaries. Let work time be work time and family time be family time. You can of course have parallel tasks running but remember, you can only truly focus on one thing at a time. Let that be what is of value to you in that moment and accept that something/someone else has to be content to wait their turn.
If you have the habit of checking your phone constantly, turn it off when you’re with your family. Truly be present for them and remove distractions completely so you can give them your undivided attention.
If you find yourself thinking of other things, resist the urge to drift off, instead live in the moment and take everything in as it happens. Start noticing your surroundings more and spending time outdoors to appreciate nature. This can sharpen your focus. Being present takes practise and the key is to be mindful.
I also suggest doing breathing exercises between tasks, this way your mind will go on reset and you can have better focus when you take on the next.
The Rewards of Being Present
You’ll find more joy in your everyday life. Being present means enjoying what’s happening now and living for today.
You will be an active participant in your life and you can shape it around your most important values. You’ll feel a greater sense of purpose in your actions and interactions with those that you love, breeding genuine connection.
There is only one time and place where you can be and have any control over and that’s the present moment, so don’t miss it.