Humans are bad at multitasking, and this is why you should retire early

I was listening to a random entrepreneur’s podcast the other day, and their guest said something that I hear a lot. For some reason this time it really resonated with me:

Humans are really bad at multitasking, you should do things sequentially

As a software engineer, I know that multitasking always comes at a cost. For computers, the task switching, monitoring of all tasks, and synchronization of all tasks costs CPU time. When you download a bunch of (totally legal) movies on bittorrent, the more you download in parallel, the slower they all will get here. But you get the illusion that you get more, faster. In reality, it would probably be faster to just get the first one first, then download the next one, etc…

The same is true for humans, when we have to work on several things. Switching between tasks means you have to refocus regularly. This costs you time, and can easily become stressful (none of the tasks gets finished…).

This is true for your work, your business, the chores you do at home… but I feel this is also true at a meta level in your life. See, I now have 2 kids. I find it extremely hard take care of them and my wife, while still finding time for myself, and in addition to that be 100% focused on work when I’m at the office.

In an ideal world, once you have kids, you should be able to dedicate 100% of your time to them and your family. And, not to put my personal situation on a pedestal or anything, but I feel this is even truer if you have more than one kid (my SAHM wife could handle one kid. The two of them is becoming tough).

But the cold truth is that you still have to go to work even though you have a growing family that needs care and attention. As a result, everything in your life suffers from it. In my case, I’m definitely not a terrific dad (I don’t spend enough time with my family),  I suck as a friend (I barely see my good friends anymore), and my work is suffering as well (I can’t focus on my work as much as when I was single and did not have an extremely good reason to go home early, for example. More generally, my priorities have shifted)

I was clearly more efficient at my job when I didn’t have kids. I had less things to worry about, and less incentive to go home early.

In an ideal world, I would have accumulated enough money before I had kids, to spend all my time with them. This would have meant focusing on money/work for the first 10 years of my adult life, to be able to then focus on my family.

People will say that such a “sequential” approach does not bring good life/work balance, and they’re probably right, but I feel it would have been much more efficient for me. These days, I am dramatically cutting back on work (although my upcoming new position might have its own opinion on this) to focus on my financial objectives. Once I reach financial freedom, I’ll double down on the time spent with my family and friends.

What do you think of this approach? Would you go “all in” to reach financial freedom faster, or would you rather enjoy life/work a bit more, even if that meant pushing your financial independence goals a bit further?

  1. Financial Velociraptor
    • StockBeard
  2. Bryan @ Just One More Year
    • StockBeard

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