Monday, November 28, 2011

Multi-tasking Moratorium Monday

Whew… it’s Monday, and we’re one holiday down. How are you today? Happy? Exhausted? Glad to get back to the office and have the kids back in school? Already looking forward to getting family/friends together for the next holiday bash? And so begins the Christmas countdown… and your next endless list of things to do, get, prepare, etc.

There’s been a LOT of hype for years now about multi-tasking. You know, put on your makeup and drink your coffee and talk on the phone (using a speaker, of course) and listen to your audio book all while you’re commuting! Let me tell you, I am an expert at putting on mascara/blush/lipstick without even looking in the mirror. Eyeliner… hmmm… not so much. I see it at the gym: on the treadmill, reading, earphone in one ear listening to music while clandestinely chatting away on their cell phone, since you’re not supposed to use a cell phone on the gym floor). I see it at the office: speakerphone on (but muted) attending a conference call meeting, two screens up with different projects while the desk is covered in paperwork, while talking to someone else in the office. We all do it at home: meal cooking, helping one child with homework, while tracking another as they try to share the dog’s food, while the laundry is going, and the phone is ringing… Wait, I’m exhausted just reading this. And even when we’re not physically multi-tasking, we’re mentally multi-tasking, switching topics at a nanosecond – the noise in our heads invades each thought until we’re unable to focus on any one thing.

Today, let’s begin exercising our FOCUS muscles and put a moratorium on multitasking. A recent study showed that multi-tasking isn’t a good thing, and that switching mindsets creates exhaustion and mediocrity or even failure at the multiple tasks you’re trying to complete. (See the three links below for the articles and the study itself).

For today, instead of trying to do ten things at once, first write out a list of all the tasks you wish to accomplish today (just today). Then begin – but give everything you’ve got to the task at hand – focus only on that task until it is complete. Once done, go on to the next task on your list, and repeat. When you are speaking to someone today, whether by phone or in person, be fully present and give them 100% of you. Instead of thinking of all you need to do, when you walk to your car or take a walk or wait in a grocery line or doctor’s office, be totally in that moment. Notice the colors, the sounds, the smells, the textures. Give yourself over to that particular point in your life, because it will never be there again.

I’m going to be doing this with you, because I’m a multi-tasking freak myself. The other night I was on the phone with a friend, laptop beside me, TV on, and painting my toenails. Trust me, I barely remember half of my friend’s conversation, little of the TV show, and my little piggies look like a “Jungle Red” slaughterhouse!! Did I do all these things at once? Sure! Did I do ANY of them well? Nope.

I suspect that if we develop our ability to be less multi-tasked and more “I’m in the here and now giving this task/person my full attention” tasked, not only will we become more productive, but perhaps even a little more at peace, enjoying each moment a little more. Would LOVE to hear your comments and results!


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