Your schedule seems to groan under ever-increasing demands, but your day never increases in length beyond the standard 24 hours. As a result, you probably feel like someone entered you into the “Best multitasker in the world” competition. So how’s that working out for you emotionally?
The Urban Dictionary defines multitasking as, “A polite way of telling someone you haven’t heard a word she said.” Another definition I prefer is, “The art of simultaneously screwing up multiple tasks.” Is that the impression you want to make?
A woman I know always talks loudly on the phone as she comes into her office, fumbling for her key with one hand while carrying a cup of coffee in the other, precariously balancing her phone on her shoulder. As a result, she misses the chance to greet the people into whose space she’s walking, and fails to note the impact she leaves on them. She doesn’t give her full attention to the person she’s on the phone with; she spends longer than she needs to find her keys; and she misses opportunities to build relationships, damaging them instead. In short, she’s distracted and oblivious. While I haven’t asked her, I’m reasonably sure the experience doesn’t make her happy.
Another example almost everyone is guilty of is our meals. We grab something on the go, eating while we drive, read, or watch TV. Sure, we stuff the calories into our bodies just fine, but what are the side effects? Our lack of mindfulness means we keep eating when we should stop, because we miss our body’s discreet “I’m full” message. It increases our stress levels. We miss opportunities to be with the people around us.
What if instead of multitasking, we scheduled our tasks based on their importance and urgency? What if we then gave each task our complete, undivided, and mindful attention? It would result in needing less time for each task, while achieving better results. It would have us fully present in the moment, savoring the only time we actually can impact – right now.
My challenge to you today is to eat breakfast with no distractions. No TV, no phone, no computer. Just you, the family, and the food. When you talk on the phone, don’t do it while walking, driving, or emailing. Be fully present to the conversation. When you’re with someone and your phone pings, ignore it and concentrate on your live interaction. If you do even one of these, I promise your stress level will decrease, you’ll do a better job, and you’ll still complete all your important tasks. It’s such small things that, when added up, help you live your personal best.