How to Avoid a Multitasking Burnout

How to Avoid a Multitasking Burnout

At a time when the trend of multitasking is gaining momentum, we are increasingly experiencing stress and are faced with the phenomenon of burnout. How to avoid a multitasking burnout? Is it possible to do it? Does one have to pursue productivity at the expense of their mental and physical health? I asked these questions to a person who seems to me to be a synonym for multitasking.

Lisa is a third-year student of World Economy Program who manages to combine studying, working and personal life. She shares her thoughts in the interview.

Student of "World Economy" BA Program

What is your everyday life like?

Well, I am in the 3rd year of the Faculty of World Economy at HSE and at the same time I am working two jobs. I consider SMM Smart Agency [] to be my main place of work, where I head the copywriting department, write texts, teach interns how to do it and help my colleagues a little on all SMM tasks, and do a little management. We have a small agency, so we do everything we can, try to take on the maximum of tasks and help each other, so I’m there like head cook and bottle-washer. [laughs]

The second place of work is a subsidiary of Sberbank, the company is called Settlement Decisions JSC. The company is engaged in non-cash payment solutions. The company has several projects, one of them is the transport project in the Moscow Region called Strelka which I take part in. This story is more about interaction with government agencies, more strictly and officially. It’s a little boring, but on the whole it’s probably a useful experience, because I see how a bureaucratic state company works. And here I have officially registered the first work book. [laughs]

In addition to studying and working, I try to do a lot of things. Most of my life is occupied with sports but usually I have time for sport only late in the evening around 11 pm, so at this point 24 hour-fitness club is my salvation. I also try to find time for some creative activities, because I study at the mathematical (almost) faculty, and the soul needs something creative. I do vocals once a week. That was also my decision, I realized that it was necessary for peace of mind. It's like art therapy. It helps to stay afloat and be yourself.

I'm also working on my telegram channel. I really like to write and probably in the future I want to try myself in publishing. So, I thought a telegram channel would be a good start point. I’m writing about student life, and about some personal experiences, and sharing all sorts of valuable finds, links, just trying to be useful. Everything that I would share with my friends, and everything that is valuable to me, I merge there and hope that it resonates among the people who follow the telegram channel.

You are such an active person! Do you have this feeling sometimes that you spread your energy?

Yes, I definitely do. I’m trying to say that multitasking is not always a positive phenomenon. In fact, I've been reading a lot of articles lately saying that the skill of working in multitasking mode is nonsense, and multitasking is contrary to productivity. Therefore, yes, I periodically catch myself thinking that I’m like everywhere and nowhere at the same time. I mean sometimes I’m involved in many projects, but I can’t be fully into one particular thing and give it all my best.

But still, I see more positive aspects in such a multidisciplinary lifestyle for myself, because, firstly, I haven’t found my business yet. I can’t understand where I want to realize myself as much as possible, and I’m afraid that this will definitely not be limited to one thing. Multitasking just allows me to try myself in many areas and make acquaintances and therefore decide what I like and what I don't like for my future.

You've mentioned the difference between multitasking and productivity. Do you consider yourself productive?

Let’s put things this way, it’s a matter of priorities. I always give my best and do 100% qualitatively in those matters that are important to me. Well, for example, I’ve set studying as my third priority, not the first, and here I am getting about 5 out of 10 points only.

Where I want to succeed, where it’s important for me to do my best, there I know I’m never ashamed of my result. There’s a priority list, and, roughly speaking, out of the 5 tasks you only manage to do the first 3, and there you’re as productive as possible. Then the productivity is on the decline which is, in my opinion, normal. You don’t have to be 100% successful everywhere.

How do you find a balance? When you're constantly at such a frantic pace, how do you avoid burnout?

It’s impossible to avoid burnout, it’s just that someone faces it more often, someone less often, someone earlier, someone later. But there are some practical tips on how to minimize it.

1. Agile life planning. Organize your everyday life routine.

Mechanics and Mathematics of Lomonosov Moscow State University at the age of 20 she went to Silicon Valley to do IT projects and startups. I almost died of envy while reading the book, and I think the girl is a genius. However, she assures readers that she's far from a genius, she's just super-efficient at organizing her time. I’ve been trying to follow her pieces of advice and writing down all the cases in a notebook, although I used to deny the system of the diary and to-do lists. Actually, I’ve been using this system for a month already and I divide cases in the notebook into several categories such as work, study and personal, draw the empty squares and put a tick.

The more clearly you write down your plans, goals or activities, the more effectively you get to spend the day. In short, don’t give up on the organization of your day, it’s better to spend 15 minutes to scroll through everything in your head and write it down with a pen in a notebook. You’ll then realize that this will work better for you because of the visualization. You’ll become a tick nerd, and you’ll want to put more and more boxes, more and more things to do, and you’ll start to get satisfaction from it.

2. Get rid of information noise. Keep track of who you subscribe to in social networks.

It’s also important to avoid information garbage and any unnecessary notifications. It’s an urgent problem of 21 century. I hate online communication, but due to the fact that this is part of my job, I spend a lot of time on the phone, but I try to pay attention to what notifications of what apps I allow to get. The fewer updates are in the feed, the better it’s for you. I try to keep the number of subscriptions on Instagram no more than a 100, turn off notifications for entertainment apps and chats with groupmates and also put a screen time limiter.

3. Internal balance. It’s about health, sleep and food.

The last but not the least. Think about what you eat and how you sleep. Taking care of yourself doesn't mean being a nerd, it means being a cool dude who's in control. You’ll see yourself that when you are healthy and morally stable, and you have some kind of balance at the physiological level, it’ll lead to the harmony on emotional level, and you’ll be both productive and multitasking.

Do you think that productivity is just a new trend of our generation? Is it necessary to aspire to it that passionately?

Well, yes, that’s true. There’s an unhealthy trend not only of productivity, but more of multitasking. Somehow, it has become fashionable to be involved in a bunch of spheres and projects at the same time. Speaking for myself, I sincerely feel this desire and intentions, but it’s not suitable for everyone. Someone may not need it, someone may be uncomfortable to work in this mode, and this is normal, we’re all different.

The main thing is not to chase the trend for the sake of the trend. It’s important to listen to yourself. Now Instagram and social media have a pressure on us and have mainly destructive influence. I can feel it myself. It’s like Instagram shouts at me: "Develop, achieve, motivate others, etc.".

Having felt that pressure on myself, I want to communicate to people: "If you are now comfortable at the stage of personal development at which you are, take your time! It’s not always necessary to run. Sometimes it's safer to tack. Let's listen to ourselves, not the motivators from Instagram, who are actually more often just ordinary people who have succeeded even less than we have. Let's not even compare."

Questions by
Evgeniya Krutilina