Conquer Our Fears

Conquer Our Fears

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Aspergers and the Struggling With Multi-Tasking:

Being a futuristic thinker, impending obligations and tasks ahead of me seem to loom, drawing closer. By focusing on several of these at once, I create a wave of paranoia and anxiety that builds up like plaque on the enamel of my worried mind. A new realization of this problem has encouraged me to pursue ways to combat the unhealthy levels of worry and fear of what's ahead. I first identified this as a problem during my last few weeks of spring classes. With four final exams approaching rapidly, I worried over how I would study efficiently knowing that there were also four written assignments to complete. In the past, I might have procrastinated without care or fear of consequence of failure. Developing the maturity and internal growth that emerges with age, however, I felt the weight of the multiple obligations I had to eventually complete even though they were weeks away. "How about working on one at a time?" a friend suggested. Now there's an idea.

The closer the deadlines of obligations approach, the more stress, frustration, and mania I began to feel. Sometimes, to the extent of lashing out at others, antisocial tendencies, and inability to think and act rationally in various situations. Having experienced past repercussions of these, as well as wanting to avoid the internal frustrations, I vied for a more practical approach.Whereas many people plan out their "to do" list in charts of similar time periods often seen as the norm(a written assignment begun a few days after announced), I began planning out obligation charts much farther ahead to match my pace of completion. For example, knowing that I had a few weeks before the papers would be due, and also fearing the impending final exams, I started my written assignments immediately, in a way that suited my method of organization. One task at a time. I knew that in order for me to study comfortably for finals, I would have to eliminate this competing obligation of written assignments. Therefore, I started with my english paper and ONLY my english paper, writing multiple pages in just the first few days of research and reading on the assignment. By the end of the fourth day, I had finished the paper, with just three left to go. Using this method of early completion, I was able to pace myself and complete the remaining three assignments by the end of the second week. Knowing the papers were written, and I just had to focus on studying now, my stress levels were at an all time low. I found that I worked better by pacing myself, and focusing on one task as a time, a uni-tasker one might say. Multi-tasking is a challenge for many of us with Aspergers, and if you are experiencing anxiety around juggling several projects, I urge you to focus on one at a time. It will help!

Interestingly, a few other Aspergians I've spoke with also function better as uni-taskers I learned, a trait that seems to be commonly shared. Indeed, tackling obligations individually rather than at the same time, helps me to complete tasks with less stress and strain on my energy reserves. "Focus on the first task ahead" I often tell myself when multiple obligations begin to build up. I select an obligation, and fulfill it before attempting another. Similarly to how I used this approach in my education, I am using this method in my applications to summer jobs, and undoubtedly will use this in other aspects of my life to come. Knowing how this helps me, I hope this uni-tasking approach will help other Aspergians face obligations with less stress and frustration.

What are some ways that you manage anxiety around a busy schedule? Let's discuss in the comments below!