If you believe that multi-tasking is a great way to get more done in the course of a day, you may be surprised to learn that multi-taskingactually fractures your concentration so you're less likely to fully complete any task. Another concern with multi-tasking is that it causes “hurry up stress” and this, according to some is “hazardous to your health and career.” Caregivers, especially those in the so-called Sandwich Generation, continually find themselves in the situation of rushing from one task to another, from work to home to the home of their aging parents. It is a seemingly never-ending cycle of busyness
Do you find yourself eating lunch at your desk while talking on the phone or discussing a work project with a colleague? Do you check email while you’re watching television or spending time with family? If waiting for a minute and a half for the microwave to cook your oatmeal has you thinking you need to be involved in another activity, you have hurry-up stress. If you can’t even brush your teeth or get dressed for work in the morning without being involved in another task, you likely are dealing with hurry-up stress. A London Business School professor explains that if you “repeatedly push the door-close button on an elevator” you have hurry sickness.
As caregivers we sometimes feel overwhelmed by the amount of tasks that face us on a daily basis so even a ten second delay can feel like an eternity. MBA professors say that eventually, “hurry sickness can also damage your career even before it wrecks your health, because being in an incessant hurry has a way of making people miss the forest for the trees.”
Caregivers find it difficult to take time for themselves when they are charged with raising their family, pursuing their careers and caring for aging relatives. How can you address the hurry up stress and care for yourself? Here are some tips:
- Make a list of all of the items you do on a daily basis.
- Make a list of all of the items you feel you should be doing on a daily basis but don’t always get to.
- Make another list of items that need to be completed monthly, ie paying bills; or weekly, mowing the lawn, etc.
- Look at all of the lists and determine which items on the list are
- need to be completed by you
- could be given to another family member, friend or hired professional to handle
- When you ponder the list see if you can determine the underlying reason why an item needs to be done as perhaps it’s not as important as it seems. Alternately, discover if there is an item on the list that causes high anxiety and come up with ideas on how to alleviate the task or the stress. In some cases, caregivers find their stress rises when they need to leave elderly relatives alone at night and perhaps during the next day while they work. Subscribing to a home medical alert device may alleviate the concern because with this device you can rest assured that if your relative suffers a fall or an illness, assistance is readily available at the push of the medical alert button.
Another way to alleviate your hurry stress is to concentrate on one item at a time. Choose an item from your to do list, whether at work, your home or your parents’ home, and concentrate your energy on completing that particular item before you move onto another. Being able to cross an item off a list is a powerful feeling of accomplishment and likely a better feeling than looking at a growing to-do list and not fully completing items on it.