Busy. No doubt about it. We are busy. Life for most of us seems to run at an ever increasingly frantic pace.
So much to do. People to see. Responsibilities to fulfill. Commitments to keep. Relationships to manage. Children to raise. Bills to pay. Clients need attention. Prospects need coaxing. The to-do’s keep multiplying.
We yearn for more energy, good food, healthy bodies, clear heads, happy hearts, encouraging opportunities, stimulating conversations, and so much more. Completion. Satisfaction. Success. Freedom. Ease. Peace.
Oh, I hear you … and a restful Sleep!
And you know what?
We deserve the best of what life has to offer. All of us. Each of us. Every day.
The multi-tasking dilemma
Often, as we try to get more done in the same amount of time, like a circus juggler we attempt to keep more of our do-this balls active and airborne. Our focus shifts from ‘what really needs to be accomplished by when’ to ‘how many things can we tackle at once’. We wonder if we can reach another ball and slide it into rotation.
We’re excited by the prospect of crossing more tasks off the list, while at the same time fearful they’ll all come crashing down around us.
We focus on the DOING rather than the GETTING DONE
Multi-tasking our way through the hours we’re temporarily lulled into a sense of implied accomplishment. But at end of the day we discover we haven’t really made much headway on anything of importance. Nothing that counts as a next step towards the destination we want to reach. Worse, what we had expected to finish is still airborne as if trapped in a time warp, leaving us feeling more overwhelmed, frustrated and stuck than before.
Multitasking is the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time. ~ Author Unknown
I’m reminded of one of the habits Stephen R. Covey illuminated in his best-seller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Begin with the end in mind.
When our focus is on ‘how many things can we tackle at once’ we are not beginning with the end in mind.
Now, I’m not about to tell you that you should never multi-task. Mindful multi-tasking is a marvelously effective and efficient technique. It’s something I teach my clients to consciously consider and implement as one method of reducing overwhelm.
Mindful multi-tasking is not, however, juggling a random assortment of tasks.
When you mindfully multi-task you do as Covey suggests. You literally begin with the end in mind.
Consider what on your to-do list could be done within a set time frame with minimal attention from you. Then pair it with another task that fits within that time frame but requires more of your direct action and attention.
Here are two good examples of mindful multi-tasking:
Throw in a load of laundry before sitting down to check social media and email. Take break to move laundry from washer to dryer. Continue with another admin type task, such as paying bills.
Plan ahead for ‘wait’ times in your day, such as being placed on hold, waiting for print, copy jobs or computer downloads/uploads to finish. Anticipate what you can easily accomplish during those moments that occasionally turn into minutes. With the proper supplies at hand you could: write a thank you note, enter a couple new contacts in your database, record yesterday’s business expenses, do some simple filing, review your prospect or tickler file, dust your monitor screen and keyboard, do some stretching exercises.
However, don’t fall into the trap of muddled multi-tasking. Don’t mix tasks that require clarity of thought and focus.
For instance, don’t try to edit a document while listening to your friend update you on her latest relationship crisis. Both will suffer from your lack of attention. Don’t start the end of the month bookkeeping reconciliation when you need to make an important call in 3 minutes. Don’t try to knock out a 1,200 word article draft due tomorrow and check your email every 5 minutes and stop to answer the phone and …. Well, you get the picture.
Don’t mistake busy for productive.
And, for heaven’s sake, stop muddled and ineffective multi-tasking as a way to hide procrastination!
Come on. You know what I’m talking about.
Please share your ideas and experiences in the comments below:
- What muddled multi-tasking have you fallen victim to?
- What mindful multi-tasking tips can you share that have helped you be more efficient and effective getting things done?
And, as always, feel free to post a question or request feedback or help solving a problem that makes you feel overwhelmed, frustrated and stuck. You don’t have to travel alone.