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Permission to Eliminate and the Myth of Multitasking

If you’ve been following along, you know I’ve been sharing my insights from Rory Vaden’s book Procrastinate on Purpose.

Vaden talks about 5 permissions to procrastinate, the first being the permission to eliminate or ignore. He asks us to consider all the things that we are doing, but shouldn’t be doing.

Sounds simple, right?

He shares a long list of likely candidates – revisiting decisions we have already made, attending unnecessary meetings, alternating between activities, watching TV (did you know that, according to A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day, which in a 65-year life span means 9 years!?), gossiping, volunteering too much, and the list goes on and on.

One of the ones that really jumped out at me, and I wager I’m not alone here, is switching between activities, also known as multi-tasking. I must admit, I’ve been proud of my ability to multi-task. Many of us have - it’s become a cultural badge of honor.

The fact is, according to neurological research, multitasking is actually a myth. We are not mentally capable of doing two things at once, we are actually just switching back and forth between tasks very quickly.

Multi-tasking, despite its elevated stature in our hyper-paced society, is stressful and anxiety-provoking harms our creativity and concentration and actually costs us time, energy, and efficiency.

I think it’s actually an addiction. I mean, let’s be honest, how long can we go before checking our email or our smartphone?

So, what’s the answer?

Here are two suggestions that I am implementing:

  1. Be the boss of your technology.  I, for one, must admit to being a slave to my cell phone ringer… What if I miss something important?  So here is a radical notion; turn the ringer off for periods of time so you can actually concentrate on what you are doing.

  2. Focus on one task at a time; keep doing it until you have completed it before starting another. If you were to peek at my computer screen, you would probably be horrified to see how many screens I have open at once. No more!

I’m already feeling withdrawal pangs…

How about you, what can you eliminate today so you have time for what really matters?


Hi, I'm Julie!

I'm an expert Spanish-English translator and interpreter, happy to help you bridge the language gap!


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