25 Jan The Art of “Single-Tasking”
Last night I read this post and it stuck with me. I’ve been thinking about it all day . . . and it led to a conversation which prompted me to make a decision. A really big decision for me.
I always talk about wanting to simplify. I run around like a crazy woman, trying to accomplish one thing after another, telling myself that once I get this task finished (the laundry) I can focus on that much more important thing (reading to my kids). I never focus on what I’m doing and if I sit down I’m still thinking about what I need to do later and how I can accomplish it most efficiently. I don’t want to be a task-oriented person.
So today someone was talking to me about stress and the toll it takes on your health. I know this–and yet I don’t think I realized a key factor that keeps me stressed. I thought it was actually helping alleviate my stress because I could accomplish two things at once, but in the course of this conversation I had a brilliant revelation. Multi-tasking is stressful.
“So,” I said. “Is it bad to watch t.v. while I fold the laundry?”
In a word, yes.
“And what if I talk on the phone while I do the dishes?”
Well, why not focus on the dishes, the way the water and soap come together. How it feels through my rubber gloves and what it looks like as it washes the grime away. And then later, sit down with a cup of coffee and call a friend to talk.
This is a new concept. I always multi-task. Really. I never just fold the laundry. Ever. I think by mistake I’ve been making my life more complicated.
But-but-but if I do this, by the time I get to evening, I will just have so much left to do!
“And the way you’ve been doing things,” my friend countered. “Everything is done by evening? There’s nothing left to do?”
Well . . . no. So, it’s not working for me this way. I might as well try something new. When I was a homeschooled highschooler we learned a concept, only I’ve never really learned it. It just stuck in my head. I don’t even know who said it.
“Wherever you are, be all there.”
I always wanted that. I wanted to pay attention to the person talking to me, instead of getting distracted and thinking about something I had to do. (That doesn’t happen all the time by the way, just once in a while, so don’t get paranoid.) I wanted to be involved in the thing I was doing, not flying off in a million directions at once. But the way I’ve been going, I’m working myself up into a more frenetic pace day after day. When will it be fast enough?
It’s way too fast now. So I’m going to do this. Right now, I’m writing a blog post. The kitchen is dirty and dishes need to be washed. Todd will be home from the gym any second. But I’m writing and that’s what I’m focused on. In a minute, I will do the dishes. Now, does that mean I can’t listen to Todd tell me about his day while I’m doing the dishes? I don’t think so. But, it might be a good idea to sit down together for a few minutes before we fall exhausted into bed.
“To the degree that you do this,” I was told today. “You will add years to your life.”
Focusing on one thing at a time is going to be hard. I am actually bored if I don’t have two things going on at once. But that should not be! I think folding the laundry ought to be an enjoyable job in and of itself. And perhaps it will be again, after I learn to slow down a little bit. It will be interesting to find out.
Anyone want to join me in learning the art of single-tasking?