Face-tweet-ping-text-call-search-smile-keep-busy-calm-and-carry-on seems to be the action of the modern human. Take a break and while your doing it text your family. Return that important phone call to a colleague while you eat your lunch. Oh, and when you return to work try out that new app that lets you tweet, post and ping at the same time. And, please answer all the incoming emails while you work on that important project. Oh, and lastly, please do it all with a smile and make it look like you are very, very zen. Forgive me, but that sounds ridiculously, explicatively crazy.
Tip #4- DO ONE THING AT A TIME
This week’s tip addresses the myth of multitasking. I’m sorry, but you cannot effectively do it all at the same time. It doesn’t work. It’s not good for you, and although it might give you the illusion of having it all together, it will make you fall apart in the long run. For readers who are technologically savvy, I’m not saying that Tweetdeck or HootSuite are not helpful. I use them too. I am not saying that email or texting is evil. What I am saying is that our brains can’t effectively focus on more than one project at a time. The way I get so much done in one day is by being efficient- I only do ONE THING AT A TIME.
I answer my email once, sometimes twice a day. I block out a chunk of time to do it and when it’s done, it’s done until the next day. I don’t work on other stuff while I’m responding to emails. I’ve instituted an auto-responder that alerts folks to my intentions (thank you Tim Ferriss). If you’re curious about it’s contents, send me an email commenting on this post and you’ll receive it.
I check Facebook once a day. I realized that sometimes I use social media as an escape from work. If I’m feeling like I need a break and find myself reaching for the mouse to log in to Facebook, and I’ve already checked it once that day, then I go outside or get up and look out the window instead. Remember Tip #1?
I start a writing project or an office task and while I’m doing it I close all the other windows on my computer. I don’t answer the phone or work on two projects at once.
I do my best to walk and just enjoy the precious space of walking ( I’m still working on this one too- it’s hard for me not to rationalize- “Oh, I have 5 minutes to walk to my car, let me text this person back”). Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh has a beautiful quote, “Walk with your feet, not with your head.”
Sorry if today feels a little bit ranty, I’m very passionate about the danger of multitasking. It feeds the illusion that a sane, capable professional has to keep it all together at all costs. “Keep calm and carry on.” “Never let em’ see you sweat.” “Keep the crazy at home.” It breaks my heart. It’s so divinely understandable that we want to be sane, look sane and feel sane. But if we reward and promote insane acts in our work behavior, make no room for vulnerability with our families or co-workers, and push ourselves until we drop from exhaustion, than we feed a beast that is never sated and will eventually kill us anyway. If you haven’t yet seen Brene Brown’s talk on shame, please watch it and watch it all the way through.
3 cheers for reclaiming your life and enjoying it. You don’t have to compromise your sanity to succeed.
My name is Kim Fleisher and I’m the director of The Reiki School + Clinic and I have a scholarly geek brain that is intensely organized and learning-driven. I’m a teacher at heart and that’s why our Reiki classes are so long – because real learning takes place over time, by DOING.
I’m going to give you one tip a week with the invitation to try it for a week and let me know if it helps! Feel free to share any tweaks you make to the process (making it your own helps seal the deal of learning/integrating any new skill), or share your own tips for staying healthy (the ability to explain what you know is a key step to mastery). Email me directly at email@example.com or post your feedback/tips as a comment here.