Your Weekly Mindfulness

Have you ever tried "single tasking?" There's a great video about it here. It seems funny how after so many years of being told by teachers and parents and bosses that "multi-tasking" was an all important skill, the pendulum is swinging back in the other direction; now it's all about the single tasking. I thought I'd try my own little experiment in single tasking this week. Here's how it went...


Step One: Recognize where the problem lies.
 It was somewhere between making my son's lunch at 4am after I had just gotten up to get a glass of water and fluffing the pillows while in the middle of getting dressed that I realized I had a problem. I couldn't complete just one task at a time. In effort to keep our house tidy and everything running smoothly I've developed the habit of starting four tasks at once, finishing them all, but not really paying attention to what I'm doing with any of them. This explains why some mornings I leave the house with my pants unbuttoned and two different earrings.

Step Two: Make a list.
I decided my best defense against too much multi-tasking was to make a list of all the things I needed to do that day and to follow it, taking note of the times I got distracted or ventured off to start a second task.  (Side note - making a list always reminds me of the Frog and Toad story called "The List," I suggest you read it if you haven't already. And see, there I go, veering from the task at hand to plug a book.)

Step Three: Know your weaknesses.
It's also important to know where your weaknesses lie. What sucks you in and takes up all your time? Netflix? Cellphone? Food? Knowing your weaknesses ahead of time can help you avoid them later.

Step Four: Focus!
Single tasking is hard. Especially when you have two kids, a husband, friends etc. also wanting your attention. I realized I had to take a stand. Obviously the kids weren't going to get the boot, and I'm not going to be ignoring my husband and friends, but I could be choosier about when we interact, keeping me from being distracted from the task at hand. So I put my cellphone away, any texts I received would be answered after I did the grocery shopping, I waited to do any photo editing or computer work until after the baby was down for his nap, and checking my email would have to wait until I was done eating lunch.

Step Five: Take note of wandering. 
My mind wanders constantly. It's pretty human to have such a wandering mind. However when you're trying to do just one task at a time, it's important to be able to reel yourself back in. Check out how far I wandered today :

Step Six: Reflect.
What did I learn today? Well I learned that sometimes focusing on one thing at a time can make life so much easier, it can give you time to breath, to not be so overwhelmed with each task, to help you slow down and feel more relaxed and connected to your work. I also learned which tasks can be single tasked and which ones might require some multi-tasking; preparing a new blog post - single task, reading a book-single task, having a conversation with your spouse - single task, preparing dinner - multi-task.

Now I challenge you to try your hand at single tasking and tell me how it goes!

top image via Flickr Creative Commons -  koka_sexton

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