The Zen of Single Tasking

The Zen of Single-Tasking - Take Time to Focus on Just One Thing
Focus on just one thing. At least once a day.

Do you multi-task? Often find yourself doing five things at the same time?

Of course you do. Everyone does. It’s what we’re supposed to do. Right?

  • You plan dinner while making breakfast.
  • You hang the washing while you talk to your kids.
  • You listen to an audiobook while you exercise.
  • You 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.

And don’t get me wrong – multi-tasking is a fact of life. It’s often the only way I get anything done. If I didn’t multi-task, I would spend a solid eight hours a day pushing my kids on the swing set!

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.


Won’t Doing Less Make Me Feel More Stressed?

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 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. One minute even.

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 today. Then, when the time comes to do it, 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 what chore needs doing next 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 are acknowledging that there is more to life than churning through a to-do list, more than just 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 Zen, the beauty, the joy in an everyday moment? Was it raking the leaves? Cleaning the windows? Drinking a cup of tea?


There’s no doubt life can be fast. Often too fast. Too much. Too stressful. Too overwhelming. On days like that we will tell ourselves there’s no time to slow down.
But there’s always time for a little slow, even on the busiest day. Join us for 365 Days of Slow and commit to a moment of slow, every day for a year. Learn more and sign up right here.

5 Responses to The Zen of Single Tasking

  1. The best thing about single tasking is the capacity for inspiration. I always get my best brainwaves when I’m hanging the washing out, savouring the fresh air and peace. Great tips.

  2. I so needed to do this the other night. I was working and wanted a cup of tea. I was thinking about the work when I pulled out my kettle and filled it with water. I had forgotten to remove the cord from inside the kettle first. I had to wait for the cord to dry completely before I could consider plugging it in. Talk about frustrating.