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Thursday, 13 March 2014

One thing at the time.

Do you ever get the feeling that your head is buzzing with everything on your mind? The feeling where everything would be better if you to-do-list was shorter or that it just magically vanished?

This could happen for example at work, where you've got deadlines, research, promises to be kept and orders from others piling up on your desk and it feels like you'll never get over them?
Or at home, where there's dishes and laundry and homework and business stuff and kids and garden and the significant other?

If you do, I say stop still. Stop now.

Pour yourself a cup of your favorite stuff (I'm having green lime tea, yum!).

And now think.

All of the things you have on your mind are somehow important. They have a valid reason to stay on your to-do list and on your mind. And it isn't wrong to want them all to be done as-best-you-can. They deserve your attention, and in order to get them sorted and done some attention will need to be given to them, at some point.
But thinking about them all at the same time doesn't do them any justice. Trying to do them all at the same time will work even less. Multitasking divides your attention to smithereens, and the amount of effort and attention that can be given to a single task in the middle of everything else is probably not enough to get the thing sorted as-best-you-can.

Instead of trying to do it all at the same time and worrying about whether you'll get anything done at all you could try out a new approach. The approach of ONE, and the approach of NOW.

*When you're making dinner, don't do the dishes at the same time. Try making Dinner instead, with a capital D. Give it your best shot, and don't go checking Facebook in the middle of boiling potatoes.

*When you're checking email at work, don't try to answer the phone at the same time. Concentrate on responding to and dealing with emaily things at once. Reply to those who need replying, delete the ones that do not require your attention, unsubscribe at once to the spam someone has sent you without your permission, and file the leftover emails appropriately so it's easy for you to come back to your inbox the next time you visit.

*When you're cleaning, concentrate on making the space as clean and tidy as you can with your skill and level of energy and time you have. Rather than going for a whole house at once, which could sound quite daunting, start with a small section and work your way outwards from your chosen beginning spot. And rather than haphazardly moving one thing to another place to get it out of the way, concentrate on finding a permanent home for your belongings.

*When you're out on a date or have promised a board game night to your kids, -this goes without saying- make sure you know where your attention is.

Rather than letting your mind wander about and figuring out new things to be put on your to-do list, take one single task -whatever it may be- and finish it. Do as much of it on one go as your time allows. If something else comes into your mind that would need your attention, write it down on a piece of paper, and resolve to think about it after you're done with what you're doing now.

Do ONE thing at the time, whatever the time.

And if you don't know where to start, start anywhere, and start now. You don't have to be on your best mood, you don't have to be well rested, and you don't have to have a plan. Pick up the first thought that comes to your mind or the first sight that you see and go for it. Follow it through and finish it if you can. Give it all the concentration it deserves, and when it's done, notice how well you just did. How happy it makes you feel. How time flew when you concentrated. And most of all, congratulate yourself on a job well done.

4 comments:

Andrea said...

Every evening when I brush the cats I watched tv too. Since I stopped watching tv I enjoy brushing the cats more .. because they enjoy it more. It is so true, doone thing at the time improves the quality of everything you do.

Dar A said...

I so agree! Thanks for the reminder; I'm working hard to quit multi-tasking. It's a habit I've had for a long time, though, so I go back there now & then, when I'm not paying attention.

Tanssiina's Anne said...

Andrea, that's such a good example. Thanks for sharing. Concentrating on one thing at the time not only makes the outcome of the deed better, but it also makes the receiving end of the deed feel better, because they've been given the attention they deserve.

Tanssiina's Anne said...

Dar, I find myself there too :) This reminder was well needed, also for myself.