From Type A to Type Ahh

Be the Change You Wish to See in the World – Ghandi


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Giving Single Tasking A Try

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Work has been crazy and I have felt literally underwater.  My husband and I leave on Monday for an early 20th anniversary trip to the Bahamas.  We will be at an all-inclusive resort.  I had an audacious goal.  I want to fully be on vacation, no checking into work or answering a few emails.  There seemed to be insurmountable obstacles between me and that goal: emails I had not had time to answer since December, scheduled all day outreach programs, project deadlines, and a back log of office work.  This week I employed two things that I have been actively trying to work on: saying I am sorry I can’t do that and single-tasking.  Truth be told they were hard and had the reward, an actual work and guilt free vacay with my life partner of 26 years, not been there I would have descended into old habits.  Eye on the prize…she persisted!

How did it go?  I did something I have never done.  I had nearly 1,000 email to go through so I set aside an entire morning and went through them one by one.  I have done that before, of course I have usually had on podcasts or been answering the phone or talking to someone in my office at the same time.  This time I just did my email.  More about the unexpected power of single tasking later.  Here is what I never did before.  I  deleted emails without doing what the person asked, if they just emailed out of the blue and it was not relevant.  I also responded to some and said something I never say, “I am sorry I don’t have time.”  I have to admit at first I felt guilty than I felt liberated.  It is freeing to realize you don’t have to do everything, just because someone asks.

That list of the insurmountable number of things I had to do, I decided to try single tasking.  Meaning giving each task my full attention while doing it.  Admittedly my husband has been going on and on about this for years.  How I should just focus on one thing!  Of course great for him, he is a guy. Right, ladies?  It kills me to say this, because he was right, I actually got so much done in much less time and feel like I did a better job.  Of course I hate it because he was right.  I love him of course; I just don’t necessarily love him being right instead of me.  Long story short I walked out of work on time yesterday, put my out of office to back February 26 can’t be reached and I am ready to be fully present with just my husband in the Caribbean.  See you when we return!


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Single Tasking is Possible

laserApparently 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. I put my podcasts on low.  This helps me tune out the office but I don’t get too distracted.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!