All of us have too much to do and too little time to do it! Our brain’s executive function system is overloaded with things to accomplish. We complain that we just don’t have the time for those non-essential tasks – so we don’t do them.
Some people delude themselves into believing that multitasking will help them find time to do more. As I teach in Seeing My Time, multitasking actually makes us LESS productive and LESS efficient.
However, I have found a way to “find time” that looks like multitasking but isn’t, because I am actually focusing my attention on just one thing. It’s called “parallel processing”.
Parallel processing is a phrase taken from the computer world. Unlike the human brain, which is limited to consciously focusing on one task at a time, computers can simultaneously do distinctly different tasks. When I parallel process, I use the same space of time for two tasks when the first one requires me to wait before I can do the next step.
For instance, in the space of time it takes for hot water to come out of the shower head in the morning, I can make my bed. Other examples are reading a book while you are riding the bus to work or knitting a sweater while you wait for the kid’s swim lessons to finish.
The inspiration for this blog came last week when I decided to make pasta and cheese for my lunch. I put the water on to boil and grated some cheese. Since the water still had some time to come to a boil, I decided to tackle that awful nagging drawer of chaos in my kitchen.
You might know this drawer. It’s the one with all of the plastic food storage containers which never seem to have matching lids. I had even purchased a couple of awesome sets of stacking containers from Joseph Joseph, but I didn’t have room in the drawer for them!
While the water came to a boil, I emptied the drawer and wiped it down, creating a new pile of chaos on my kitchen counter. In the time it took for the pasta to cook, I matched lids to containers and decided which ones I would keep and which were headed to Goodwill. I even had time to put the “keepers” and my lovely new containers, into the drawer before I sat down to eat.
Now, every time I open that gorgeous organized drawer, I celebrate the teenager who shared with me the concept of parallel processing. How might you use this strategy to “find time” to do something you need to do? Please share your idea with us on our Facebook page.
Marydee Sklar is the president of Executive Functioning Success and the creator of the Seeing My Time Program®. She is an educator and author of three books on executive functions, as well as a trainer and speaker. Marydee has more than twenty years of experience working with students and adults with executive function challenges.
Executive Function Tip: Managing Screen Time
The Stress of a Brain Without Internal Time
8 Tips for Managing an Angry, Fearful, Anxious Brain
Upcoming Workshop in NYC - Building Executive Function Skills: Time Management, Planning and Organization