24 November 2010

Mindful or Multi-Tasking?

How many times do you work on a task while thinking of a million other things you need to do? Or, you multi-task – you perform two or three tasks at the same time? In our world of multi-tasking and unconscious focus, it has become fashionable to multi-task. But just as you can have only one conscious thought at a time, you can only give 100% focus and attention to one task at a time. So if you are talking on the phone, checking your emails, watching the children and cooking a meal all at the same time, you have diluted and dispersed your focus and attention and no one of those tasks have your full undivided attention. The results of these tasks will be diluted as well.

Buddhist monk, author and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh says when you do the dishes, only do the dishes. This means to be fully mindful of the dish you are washing, not thinking of the ten other things you need to do.

Now, I get that in this day and age you feel you don’t have enough time and must multi-task in order to get everything done. Well, here is a solution. If you must multi-task, focus on one full attention task and one or two lesser attention tasks. A lesser attention task is a task that does not need your full attention in order to get accomplished; like doing the laundry. After loading the washing machine, the machine does the work and you don’t have to focus on it. Lesser attention tasks can run in the background and does not require your full attention to get done. Doing one full attention task and one or two lesser attention tasks will greatly reduce your stress levels and allow you to get more done more effectively. 

Think about this: Would you want your doctor thinking about other things while operating on you?

So, just for today, let go of the stress of multi-tasking. Live mindfully!

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