Do you multi-task? Find yourself doing two (or three, or seven) things at the same time?
Honestly, I’d be surprised if you said no. Everyone does. It’s what we’re supposed to do. Right?
- plan dinner while making breakfast
- hang the washing while you talk to your partner
- listen to a podcast while you exercise
- talk on the phone while watching your kids play.
You multi-task because you’re clever. Because you’re efficient. You’re making the most of your time. You’re getting business sorted.
When you multi-task and tick items off your to-do list, you feel clever. You feel efficient. You feel like you’re making the most of your time.
But what about the other side of that coin?
Do you feel exhausted? Like you’re not doing anything well? Like you’re being torn in too many directions?
Despite what your overwhelmed, over-worked, over-committed brain may be telling you – you don’t need to do more.
You need to do less.
You need to focus on just one thing at a time.
You need to single-task.
We are told constantly that high-quality humans are efficient. They’re on top of things. He lives on 4 hours sleep a night. She manages a home, family and business. We’re told that if we want to emulate them, we need to do the same. In other words: we need to multi-task.
And, to be honest, there are times when we do. But not all the time.
It’s not about doing less.
It’s about choosing one task during the day.
It’s about being focused on that task and that task alone.
It’s about immersing yourself wholly and completely in experiencing it. Finding the Zen, the beauty, the JOY of mindfully finishing that task.
How to find the Zen in single-tasking
10 minutes is all you need. Even one minute will do if you’re that busy.
One minute of beautiful, meditative quiet in a day otherwise filled with the urgent need to be productive, to get things done, to prove our value.
Choose a task:
Pick one task you need to complete. Then, when the time comes to do that thing, simply devote yourself to it. Soak up every detail of it. Immerse yourself in your senses.
Are you hanging out the laundry?
Instead of planning dinner, or thinking about the meeting you have this afternoon, or what you will do when the kids wake from their nap, try this:
- Focus on the fresh scent of the wet, clean clothes
- The coolness of the damp fabric in your hands
- The snap of the pegs on the line
- The way the sunlight hits the linen
- Appreciate that you make time to do this simple task so your family will have clean clothes
Make time for that to be the one thing you are thinking about. The one thing you are experiencing. The sole purpose of that moment.
And when you’re done, take a deep breath.
Then it’s back to the day. Back to keeping balls in the air, kids on swings, food in bellies.
Make it a ritual
If you can make this small ritual of single-tasking a part of your everyday, you are putting your well-being ahead of the busyness of our world. You’re acknowledging that there is more to life than churning through a to-do list and getting things done.
After all, this is why we’re on the path to a simpler life, isn’t it? So we can experience more of these moments every day. More simple pleasures. More little joys. More mindful intention.
When was the last time you found the beauty and the joy in an everyday moment? Was it raking the leaves? Cleaning the windows? Drinking a cup of tea?