Women magazines have the uncanny ability to bring trendy topics back into print every season change.
And when we’re in the “Back To School” season, you’ll find countless articles on the topic of work and life balance.
As a good student, I’ve often tried to apply the advice given, only to end up feeling like a complete failure. At best I was able to multi-task like a mad woman and ended up totally exhausted more often than not.
And worst of all, what had to be done wasn’t completed to the standard I normally set for myself.
As I dwelled on yet another failure at “balancing every area of my life” I contemplated the rather simple but revolutionary idea that maybe there’s no such thing as work-life balance?!
Little did I know that I was onto something already well researched and studied by brain scientists and sociologists. (A quick google search on “negative effects of multi-tasking” will reveal what I mean…)
After digging deeper and deeper into the research available online, followed by countless tests on myself, I realised that this was the truth: Women mags are simply wrong! It is not humanly possible to multi-task AND provide quality work AND feel at peace and healthy all at once.
We are made to focus on one thing at a time, and that’s when we provide our very best work as well as take the best care of our mental health on the long run.
Applied, this concept has relieved me from major guilt, overwhelm and healed long-lived unrealistic expectations.
Imagine looking at a juggler… and each ball is a task to be completed…
If you look closely, he only touches one ball at any given time. Only to catch the next one shortly after.
Bringing this visual metaphor into work-life balance, you’ll realise that you can only ever do one thing well at a time.
Here are some of the most common negative effects of multi-tasking on your health and life:
- Brain damage: multi-tasking can affect your ability to use your memory to its fullest, leading in the worst cases to Alzheimers disease and all other brain disorders caused by cerebral over-stimulation.
- Lack of focus: when you are trying to do more than one thing, details get easily lost and things don’t get completed, this usually leads to the exact opposite of our desired outcome, our old friend procrastination!
- Increased stress levels (who needs that ?!)
- Increased anxiety
- There’s even a greater chance to walk in front of moving traffic, because of brain fatigue…
And the list goes on and on…
“Ok, that sounds good, but I’ve got SO much more work and life to juggle. Doing one thing at a time simply looks unrealistic!”
I hear you. As a women, our lives usually look like this:
- Kids (school, meals, play dates, activities, etc.) including taxiing them around town
- Cleaning the house
- Feeding the pets
- Walking the pets
- Rare coffee with friends
- Time with partner
- Pay the house bills
- Organise the next family break
- Wash, hang dry, iron clothes
- Commute to work
- Grocery shopping
- Schedule and manage everyone’s schedule
- And we haven’t even started with the work and business tasks on your list…
Your daily juggling skills are seriously insane!
And then you start handling many tasks at once… which leads to… well, the reality:
So why does it happen like that?
Well we already know that we can only handle one thing at a time to be efficient in life.
And this singular focus is usually described as a manly quality because it is a “left brain” concept. (logical, foveal focused vision, single focus)
But that’s a huge over-simplification of how the brain works.
And women are usually described as being more right brain (creative, emotional, big picture oriented (i.e. we plan Christmas presents by the end of the Easter break…), multitasking).
Women are completely capable of being more left brain at times, just as the opposite is true of men too.
The skill for you to learn is to know exactly how to shift from one state to another at will. These techniques are taught in detail with practical exercises in Womanity Wonders.
For now, the first step is to become clear on everything that you must complete daily, weekly, monthly in both your personal and work life. And re-design your schedule in a realistic way where multi-tasking is not an option.