Apparently what people say about focusing on one task is correct, if all anecdotal evidence is to be believed. I have been working on cutting my addiction to multi-tasking. I believe I waxed poetic about my love of it in a previous post. Let me tell you it is easier to write that than to actually do it. There is something very appealing about multi-tasking, at least for me. Since I am often confessing terribly embarrassing things about myself in this blog, why stop now! The truth is multi-tasking always made me feel really important. I am not sure to who or why I cared. The one thing I am sure of is, I did care. Truth be told as I have started to limit that more I feel a little pang of guilt or regret. Now people are thinking she used to do so much and be running around like a crazy person. Now her desk is spotless every night and I see her walking all relaxed down to the copier, what a loser. Mind you that entire conversation happens in my head.
How do I persevere despite all my internal instincts. First I found out I was busy all the time, feeling stressed, and turns out I was mostly busy generating my own chaos. When I stopped that and actually started to focus in, turns out I got actual things done. I had time to plan other things and side benefit, no longer feel like I might be on my way to my first heart attack (over emphasis for effect, but you get me.) Turns out when I look all placid on the surface completing task after task that I am actually all placid on the inside. That did not just happen. Don’t let my newly Zen attitude fool you; I was full on results driven, neurotic, self-judging, perfectionist. I had to put some real work into setting up for success. Mind you success for me does not mean I never slip into Super Multi-Tasker mode but it is culled way back.
What did I do:
- Cleared the clutter in my office. I mean a brutal, no piece of paper could hide, merciless, gutting. If I am being honest it was so amazing afterwards I just sat in the peace and I may have cried.
- Heresy be damned, I shut off my email except for a couple of times a day. Turns out real life is not an episode of 24. No one’s life hangs in the balance if they don’t know I am available for a meeting the moment they ask.
- I put my podcasts on low. This helps me tune out the office but I don’t get too distracted.
- Extended my clear office into a maintenance phase. I deal with my mail right away. I assess every professional magazine I get. If there are one or two articles I want to read I cut them out scan them and put them in a computer file labeled articles of interest. Recycle the magazine. Bonus I now actually have down time during the week to read some of them. Also easier to forward to colleagues.
- Don’t have my phone out at the office. I check periodically because I take care of my mom.
These were not big lifestyle changes. They made a huge difference. I have to say before I started meditating and being more mindful there is no way that me could have done any of them!