I love that self-righteous glow I get when I can leave for work in the morning, having already unloaded the dishwasher, done a load of laundry, made the family breakfast, cleaned the kitchen back up, answered some emails, and think, “Ha! I’ve done more this morning than many people will accomplish all day.”
That momentary, puffed-up, self-satisfied feeling is a glorious thing.
We love multitasking. We value multitasking. We pride ourselves on our ability to multitask. In fact, most of us couldn’t make it through the day and accomplish all that we need to accomplish without multitasking.
Clearly, I am just as engaged in this mindset as any of you. I take great pride in the number of things I can do with my feet while my hands are working on another task!
I’m out of control.
I am not naïve enough to believe that we Americans are going to give up our multitasking, but let’s face it, when we cannot get into our cars without picking up our phones, we’ve lost contact with reality. On the rare, and blessed days, I accidentally leave my cell phone at home I panic when I first get in my car on the way home. But five minutes into the drive I find myself relaxing into the quiet stillness of my ride home, free to sort through my workday or to mindfully stay in the moment and actually enjoy the scenery on the drive.
I would like to suggest that we make uni-tasking the focus of the month; simply keeping our minds on the one activity we are engaged in. When you first begin this exploration, you may decide you need to do more than one thing at a time. Fine. At least you’ve made a conscious decision to do so, rather than mindlessly rushing into frantic, habitual behavior.
But once you start this project, you’ll find that you’ll be comfortable giving up more things, or at least putting them off until you’ve finished the task at hand. Eating is a great example. How often do I pick up a bagel on those power-production mornings and carry it around the house, nibbling here and again while I accomplish all of my tasks. How much more I would enjoy my food and how much more thorough would my digestion be if I took the time to sit down to thoroughly chew and taste my food? How much more valued do my children feel when I get off the computer long enough to look them in the eyes while they are talking to me? How much less frantic is my entire day when I consciously choose to slow down, release mindless time-killers and enjoy my actual life.
I was recently in a class where someone asked, “Why does the mind have such a strong desire to pull me away from my life?” How much of what we do is simply mind-numbing distraction?
So, as we head into summer, take a moment to stop and breathe. Look deeply at your speed and your energy. Slow down and make conscious choices about your engagement with your world. This moment only happens once. Can we do less and do it more fully? Give yourself permission to uni-task this month. Try and substitute that momentary puffed-up feeling of conquering the world for a more sustainable presence in the world.
I think you’ll like the way it feels.