Single Tasking

Multi-tasking is a myth.

You might be able to drive, text and have an ice cream all at the same time. Completely illegal. Not the ice cream bit, mind you. You might be able to complete tasks at the same time but are you actually aware of what you are doing or are you merely gliding through life but not really living.

To be present in what you are doing, to being there is quite different from doing it thinking of something else. To be present while say eating a hamburger, means that you notice the texture, the taste, the smell. You take your time to chew. You notice what you feel. And you enjoy each moment until the last morsel is gone. And you sit and let that feeling last a while longer as you think about who made the bun, where the lettuce came from and how much garlic was in the alioli. It’s an experience.

You might have eaten the burger before and you know the taste so that’s why you keep going back to the same place. It tastes good. The price fits your budget. Need we say more. Think again of the same burger and meanwhile you have email to read. So you do both at once. Eating and reading. One does not do the other justice. The same burger now is eaten just the same as the prior burger but the experience is not the same. Autopilot is on and the burger is gone and the email is read but if I asked you about it ten minutes later you might have trouble remembering. If I asked you the next day what did you have for lunch yesterday you probably won’t remember.

Which meal is more appealing? Obvious right? The first one where you were present at the meal. But I have no time, you say. I’m too busy to sit down and do just one thing, you protest. What is all the busy-ness about? Do you know why you run yourself ragged? Perhaps you have legitimate reasons like children and mortgage payments and/or more.

Fair enough I say. Does your life need to be complicated? How can you make it simpler? Simpler doesn’t mean boring. I mean how can you make it easier on yourself? Are you doing what you want to be doing? Do you know what you want to be doing? Have you stopped and thought about it lately? Do you still have the excitement you had when you were a child when you did something new?

Try doing the same thing tomorrow as you intended but this time with intention, to be present in the moment. You might find a completely new experience in something mundane.

If we do something while we are thinking or worrying about something else we aren’t giving ourselves the time of day. We are disrespecting ourselves. If we focus on one thing at a time we will find better clarity and our thoughts will have better focus. Concentration will improve and we will enjoy our time more. Our memory may even improve too.

Do all the tasks on your do-to list really need to get done? Today? Tomorrow? Are they important? Are they urgent? No? Walk away. Have a rest. Maybe your list needs adjusting. Less on it. Give yourself time to yourself. Doing nothing.

Single tasking is the start of mindfulness.

Mindfulness is in my sober toolbox.


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