'Mindful Monday': Women’s innate gift...multitasking

May 11, 2015


Nancy Fredericks

Nancy Fredericks pens Women Lead Change's "Mindful Mondays" column, appearing the second Monday of every month. Fredericks is a preeminent Business Executive Strategist, Author and Thought Leader. Corporations like Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Adobe, Allergan and Transamerica have retained her to optimize individual and organizational performance. You can find her at www.CareerStretchZone.com. The views of Nancy Frederick's blogs represent her own and not necessarily the views of Women Lead Change.

No matter where I travel around the country or what industry sector I am working in, universally executives are troubled by the lack of time they have.

I bet you are facing the same dilemma yourself. Isn’t it true that you never have enough hours in your day to do everything on your “to-do” list? How hard is it for you to calendar time to acquire knowledge so that you remain relevant in today’s marketplace, where workers on average take in five times more information than 10 to 15 years ago? Aren’t you experiencing higher frustration and stress levels over your inability to balance your personal and business life?

The scarcity of time is an even larger distress factor as a woman. Why? You are habitually responsible for two equally challenging obligations—home and work. Research attests to this, and you live it every hour of every day.

These competing responsibilities between work and home mean you wrestle daily to accomplish more than your male counterparts. Despite men expanding their contribution at home in recent years, their time commitment is still well below yours. The inequality of home responsibilities is true even when husbands and wives hold equal position and salary. In the research men categorized playing with their children as part of their home responsibilities! Do you?

What is a woman to do?

It is important to realize that if you are like most women, you were born with the hardwired gift of multitasking. You have better connectivity between the left and right sides of your brain, which allows you to shift smoothly between conflicting tasks whether work or family or unexpected emergencies.

Research by Dr. Gjisbert Stoet confirms women’s multitasking abilities. He found that men and women are equally competent when performing tasks one at a time. Something interesting occurs when we are required to switch rapidly back and forth between projects—no matter the gender—we slow down and make far more mistakes!

The study discloses that men were significantly slower as they took 77 percent longer to respond while juggling assignments in comparison to remaining single focused, whereas women took only 69 percent longer. Clearly, we are good at multitasking, and yet it slows us down.

Yes, in the arena of multitasking, women own it. No surprise to you, I’m sure. However, even though we can multitask…. And we’re good at it….. Should we?

The answer is no, not automatically. Rather than reactively responding from our natural multitasking style, we need to be discerning, think deeper, and not get sucked into the urgency surrounding us.

Instead, pause, and ask yourself:

  • Does this task require a single focus to achieve excellence—whether kissing your child goodbye for the day or reviewing an important contract?
  • Is this what I should be focusing on right now—whether glancing at a text message or mentoring a staff member?

If your answer is a legitimate no, it is time to rely on and work with your awesome core gift of multitasking. Then start weaving magic by juggling what is on your plate because you can, and you are good at it.

Category: Mindful Monday