I used to pride myself in multi-tasking. Sometimes it felt like a necessity, but in general I never understood why I would do one thing, when I could combine it with another task and accomplish more in the same time frame. Our society tends to feed that philosophy, telling us we can – and should – ‘have it all’, and with the wonders of modern technology, it certainly seems more accessible. I know I’ve tried to cook dinner, help a kid with homework while listening to a voicemail and texting a colleague all at the same time. I may have felt like I checked each box, but was I really present?
As I reflect on my patterns, I now am quite certain I wasn’t as great at multitasking as I thought I was. Yes, our brain is an amazing computer, but it really doesn’t do well when overloaded. Over the years, I’ve learned that the more I have on my plate, the more important it is for me to practice being more, not just doing more.
Shifting gears doesn’t mean you have to completely stop and do ‘nothing’, but it does suggest there’s value in doing just one thing at a time. Try out a few of these mindfulness skills to help you transition to a more balanced and effective pace.
Wise Mind in the routine of daily life. Choose a task you do every day but often pair with other things, and decide to do only that one task. Rather than checking your phone while you brush your teeth, try simply brushing your teeth. Instead of watching the news while walking around the kitchen with your coffee and breakfast, just pull up a chair and practice eating without the TV.
“Just this one moment” Wise Mind. This is particularly useful in those moments when you have so much to do, that you don’t know where to start. Try choosing just one thing, just one task, just this one moment. That might mean consciously putting on your shoes or mindfully turning off the lights before you leave the house.
Wise Mind awareness of what needs to be done. I’m typically a pen and paper list girl. I love the feeling of crossing something off and the feeling of completion. However, I’ve recently found that whether I jot it down on paper or use Google tasks or sticky notes in my computer, getting it out of my head and in front of me keeps me more clear and helps my day feel more manageable. I’m able to feel more intentional and stay much more present with whatever is happening that moment.
It’s true that each day has its own mix of responsibilities, tasks and ‘stuff’, some of it planned and some completed unexpected. Sometimes our plate can feel as though it’s overflowing. Taking a few small steps to shift out of doing mind by being present in some very simple ways, you can lighten your load and handle the next moment with more ease.