My New Year’s Resolution: To Give up ‘Multi-Tasking’.
Determined to practice what I preach; I have decided give up ‘multi-tasking’ for 2017 (and hopefully forever). Instead, I am going to focus mindfully on completing tasks in a sequential manner, whilst basking in the calm and mental clarity that this approach will surely bring.
I am so committed to this resolution, that rather than wait until the last squeak of 2016, I am going to start now and beat the end of year brain fug brought on by trying to do a million things at once before the holidays.
I have three very simple reasons:
1. There is no such thing as multi-tasking. Whilst we can do two things at once (i.e. walk and talk) we can’t concentrate on two things at once. We have just learnt to switch tasks so quickly that we have convinced ourselves that our brain is simultaneously processing them.
2. It doesn’t work. No surprise as it doesn’t exist. But the rapid-fire manic switching doesn’t work either.
3. In fact, manic-switching is counter-productive. It floods your brain with the stress hormone cortisol which reduces your ability to think strategically and creatively.
Do you need to try it too?
Are you gaily sailing into the holidays, filled with festive cheer, relaxed and confident that you can leave your work behind mentally as well as physically?
Or, are you eyeing the holiday season with desire and dread? Already resigned to gliding through tinsel and turkey whilst mentally replying to emails, writing your January 3rd to-do list and fretfully asking yourself why you can’t just switch off for one day in 365?
Instead of promising yourself you will get up early to work or risk physical and relationship injury to find 4G, you could do it differently this year.
Focus. Focus. Focus. Laser-like. On one thing at once. Really, one thing. Not one thing in the front of your mind whilst the back battles the rest.
Commit time. I am aiming to work up from 25 minutes to a full Power Hour.
What do you need to do?
1. List the tasks you are trying to fulfil and their deadlines
2. Organise and prioritise:
a. Critical – My business and/or sanity is at risk over the holidays unless I have done this
b. Urgent – I/my business will be much healthier/safer when this is complete
c. Ideal – doing this will make me feel significantly lighter of mind and make my holiday enjoyable
d. Parking Lot – I need to do it. But not right now.
3. Work out how much time each task will take, when you are doing only that one thing
4. Block this time in your diary in 25 minute to hourly increments
5. Identify any resources you need to complete each task i.e. someone’s input, a document, data etc.
6. Set up to succeed – email off, phone off, something to drink, something to eat. Silence or music. It doesn’t matter. But, create your optimal environment.
START & FINISH
7. Set your timer and tackle Task One.
8. Focus. When your mind wanders onto Task Two or Three. When you are tempted to text someone, check your email, scan Amazon, write a list. Re-focus. Remind yourself you have set aside time for the other tasks.
9. Finish. Take a break. Re-set the timer. You are onto Task Two.
10. Have you missed anything? Is anything left undone? What can you identify now that might start whirling around your head when you are meant to be ‘relaxing’?
11. How did it work? Worth another go? Can you do an extra 10 minutes?
If you are now swimming in free time, you could also read The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Daniel J. Levitin.
If all else fails…Contact me and I will coach you through it…