Women: Multitaskers? Or in a hurry to do it all? Women: Multitaskers? Or in a hurry to do it all?

Working conditions and family structures make many women take on roles that can lead to health risks if they are not delegated or taken on in a balanced way.

Medical Advisor Claudia María Moreno Gómez – Psychologist, practitioner at Coomeva Private Healthcare

Phrases like, “I can do it all,” “Only I can do this,” “I can’t trust anybody else to do it,” “I don’t need anyone’s help,” “I may be very busy, but I don’t leave anything unfinished,” are commonly heard in this new “profession” taken on by many women: the multitasker.

According to psychologist Claudia María Moreno Gómez, work affairs and economic hardship make women perform different activities at the same time, “Currently, many situations turn women into multitaskers such as the distribution of household responsibilities, a lack of a family support network a lack of teamwork, and an increase in divorces – which in some cases – makes women play the role of both mother and the father.”

While for many, the idea of multitasking is a matter of women’s empowerment, it is important to clarify that this notion is one that has been brought on by society, as science shows that doing several things at once distracts the brain and makes it less efficient. But this is not all. Psychology adds, for example, that doing several things while taking away a responsibility from a partner is not always helpful, as this can involve taking on roles that do not come naturally. As Moreno indicates, “Sometimes people will think that there is nobody else who can do a certain task, so it does not get delegated or they don’t trust someone else can do it. This is a misconstrued approach, as relying on help is an essential part of living in society and interacting with others, and no one is self-sufficient enough to fill multiple roles. This happens all the time and it is what compromises quality or setting priorities, for example.”

Finding balance

When it comes to doing several tasks, it is important to set priorities, redefine your goals and to pay attention to how satisfied you are when you perform each activity.

As Moreno explains, “If you carry out your activities in a balanced way, but your level of stress and tension rises as a result of them, this means that you are handling the situation in a way that is off-balance. It is one thing is to believe that that we, alone, are enough. This is helpful when it comes to teaching ourselves things or to being disciplined, but this morphs into something else when it turns into isolation, arrogance or difficulty delegating or asking for help, leading people to become overburdened. Sooner or later, this will affect a person’s emotions and can end up causing different types of diseases.”

It is important to make special emphasis here on mothers, who often feel there is never enough time in the day to do everything they planned for in coordinating their family, work, professional and romantic lives. All of this becomes a challenge because they think that quitting or putting something off is a sign of weakness; but this can trigger high levels of stress, anxiety and the even frustration.

To avoid becoming a stressed-out multitasker, try setting a clear goal that isn’t too easy in order to prevent becoming bored with it, and yet isn’t too difficult so as to avoid stress. Once this goal has been identified, focus on it and on the emotions and sensations that it causes when other thoughts arise; and when they do, if they are not helpful, let them go and refocus on the task at hand. Try applying these recommendations to your family, work, academic and personal life.

Have fun with what you do

In order to get off the highway to stress, our psychologist offers a few recommendations when there are several responsibilities to handle.

1. Set aside time to do fun activities that compensate for your mental exertion.

2. Learn to ask for help, delegate and believe that others can be committed about doing these tasks.

3. Prioritizing is key in order to give your greatest effort to the projects that demand the most responsibility and energy.

4. Resting improves your concentration. This is not just about sleeping, it’s also about taking short breaks.