Recently I’ve re-discovered that multi-tasking isn’t something that serves me anymore. Here’s what it typically looks like:
- I make a To Do list, or put things on my calendar to do at a particular time.
- I start thing A, which is typically the thing I am most willing to do.
- After a few minutes, I realize thing A requires* thing 1, and start messing around in thing 1.
- This leads to thing 2, thing 3, and maybe things 4 and 5.
- I realize I’m off track, but now I feel burnt out, and any motivation to do thing A is now gone.
- I start thing B, hoping that will help.
- Rinse and repeat, potentially adding things C, D, etc.
Note: *”Requires” is a highly subjective term.
A more concrete example:
- I decide that I’m going to do the laundry, so I get the laundry basket from the closet.
- While I’m in there, I notice that there are still some thing not hung from last time’s laundry, so I hang them.
- When I turn around, I see my jewelry box and shoes on the shelf, and note their disarray. I start organizing.
- I think about going to Prague next week, and as I’ll be needing jewelry and shoes, I decide to figure out which ones to add to the “bring” pile.
- Which naturally leads me to picking out outfits for the trip.
- But oops! I don’t have a printout of my typical travel checklist. Let me go to the office to print that out. (I usually do remember–for efficiency’s sake–to bring the laundry with me to the office, as it’s next to the laundry room.)
You can see my point. What’s worse is when this isn’t limited to a little room like the closet, or if it’s a virtual/online thing. I sure hope that there were times in my life where being able to handle (seemingly) a million things at once was rewarded. Else how did my brain make this such a habit?
Today I’m trying (again) to “single-task”. Wow, that was a goal many years ago, but somehow now it feels more important. I’m losing my ability to keep track of all these balls I put into the air. Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s wisdom. So I made several lists today:
- Before first yoga class: get back to clients from yesterday with homework. Check. Eat light first breakfast. Check. I was feeling really good about this!
- Between morning and noon classes: listen to a webinar that I missed the first time around (due to multi-tasking), make and eat oatmeal second breakfast/snack, do delicates (laundry). Check x3! Awesome. It was really hard though. I sort of multi-tasked watching the webinar with doing the other two, if I’m honest.
- After noon class and pre-client: Make lunch, do some bookkeeping, take a (or do an online) yoga class. But then I had this idea for this blog, you see? But I wrote it down on my Post It, as a note, because 4 things aren’t allowed on the list. Just 3. So I made my lunch and sat down to eat it. Just as my phone rang. I answered, and spoke to a “patient care representative” about a long standing issue with a doctor’s office. Yay, OK done. Then the phone rang again. Ugh, no. Voicemail. Food. Eat. Ah, post it to my Facebook page, because pictures of good food are always good, right? Oh and there are some interesting things in my news feed. Share. Ah, another story. Wait, what am I doing? Stop. Finish my food. Decide to write this blog rather than do my bookkeeping, because trading things on the list is allowed, right? FAIL!
Single tasking. One-pointed focus. Like meditation, it makes so much sense, yet is so hard to do. Which is why we practice. I don’t practice single tasking enough. I’m going to try more.
Do you think you’d be better off single tasking, or multi-tasking? Which is easier for you?
Stay tuned for my next post, tentatively titled: “the struggles of the workflow efficient.”