Ever since I learned (in one of my psych classes) that doing too many things at once can affect mental health, I’ve been trying to curb my multitasking ways. It’s not just psychologists, but also behavioral scientists, time management experts, neurologists and neuroscientists who are sounding the alarm. They’re telling us that multitasking is not the time-saver we think it is.
Over-multitasking, they say, is not just a time-waster, it can kill careers and may even damage our brains!
Armed with this knowledge and since I needed to find a better way to juggle two jobs, a yoga certification program, a weekly volunteer position, and far away friends and family I’m trying to keep up with, I decided to give the whole single-task living-in-the-moment thing a try.
After trying it out, some habits stuck. This approach is working so well for me that it feels like I have at least another hour in my day. My schedule seems to flow a lot better and I’m less anxious about what isn’t getting done.
I ignore non-urgent texts and calls
Being in the mix and in on every conversation thread used to be my thing because it made me feel connected. I’ve switched to Sunday Facetime chats and 3-way calls to keep up with my family and friends on the East coast instead. Now, they get to see what I’m up to by my Snapchats during the week and have more of my attention on the weekends. Having more video chats and a set Sunday schedule, we have a routine and feel more connected.
All the changes, which I immediately noticed were for the better, saved me texting time and made it totally okay for me to ignore them if I’m in the middle of something.
Cooking is my happy place
I started cooking more for my health and to save some “greens,” but it’s turning out to be one of my favorite ways to be in the moment. Bonus: They say cooking is a form of creativity so I guess I can call myself creative. But the reason this habit will stick, when I’m cooking I have no interest in doing anything else.
I go running
When I’m running (dancing or doing yoga), I am completely there.
I do nature
I don’t do this as often as I’d like, but I find looking up at the night sky meditative. Laying on a blanket on the roof of my building where the view is so beautiful, is a gift. On a clear night, I can get lost for 15 minutes or more just kicking back and looking up at the night sky.
I make a game of it
“How long can I focus?” is a mental game I like to play at work where I can get distracted easily, especially doing certain activities like writing to a vendor. I will challenge myself to focus on that email for 10 minutes. If at the end of 10 minutes I’m not done, I’ll add another 5 minutes. I keep the game going until I’m done. This little practice has upped my overall productivity at work– and at school.
I read more
Reading a book helps me “pause” time while I live in the world the author created. Since I don’t own a TV, I’m relying on books more for my entertainment. It’s paying off for me because I’m not just being entertained, reading is helping me become a better writer too.
I focus on my breathing
It’s something I can do anywhere and it helps me stay in the moment. The 4-7-8 breath exercise helps me develop that “calming” presence I’m trying to become.
I’m noticing all the time now that when I do simple things like these, it’s like time has been extended and I experience more of my life.
Working on my multitasking ways have opened me up to mindful practices that have helped me grow as a person. I’ve become more focused, more productive, and calmer. It’s way more than I expected so it’s something you can bet I will continue doing!