A few weeks ago, I was frazzled and venting to my 17 year old son. I felt like I was always trying to catch up, there was always too much to do, I was being pulling in 9 million different directions, and on top of it all, I ended up burning dinner! He looked at me, and said in that frank way of his, “You’re trying to do too much, mom.”
His words washed over me in a moment of clarity, and I realized all my multi-tasking was causing nothing but stress, and I knew something had to change.
From the moment I get up in the morning until the moment I go to bed, I multi-task. Certainly, mothers are known for this skill, but I wonder how many of us are being stressed and worn down by trying to multi-task our entire day?
I was certain I could not get everything done if I didn’t multi-task all day long. I had fallen into the habit of eating standing up so I could keep working, teaching multiple children different subjects all at the same time, working on several blog projects in several different browser windows, and doing so many things while cooking our dinner that I ended up forgetting I was even cooking (until I smelled it burning)!
The very day my son said those words to me, I chose to quit multi-tasking. I chose to make a conscious effort to do one thing at a time, and if possible see that one thing through to the end (VERY difficult with a lot of children underfoot). And so far, life is MUCH calmer.
Here’s how I’m doing it:
*I don’t start a project I don’t have time for. I was notorious for thinking I could squeeze one more thing in only to find I could not finish it. And there it would sit – started, but undone – which is worse than waiting to be started, in my opinion.
*I try to see things through to completion if possible. Obviously, there are exceptions to this, but if I start a project, I need to stay focused on that project until I have it finished. A bunch of undone projects causes major stress.
*I ask the children not to interrupt me. This is a hard one, but if you teach a child to put his hand on you until you can acknowledge him, you will find you can quickly get to a stopping point that makes sense and will allow you to pick back up more easily. I also have to often explain to the children that I am currently doing XYZ, and will get to them as soon as I finish XYZ. They don’t often realize how busy I am, so this helps to understand what I am busy with and why they need to wait.
*Make lists to keep you on track. Write down the things you need to do and refer to it often. And nothing, absolutely nothing feels as wonderful as checking off things on your list!
*I remind myself when I start to wander that I am not multi-tasking. Our fast-paced online lifestyle has given most of us popcorn brain – myself included. Everything we do is one click away. We think everything should be efficient and lickety-split, but our patience has grown thin, and our brains flighty. It takes effort to remind myself that I have to stay on task, but it so worth it! More items on my to-do list are getting checked off, and that is such a good feeling!
Is multi-tasking affection your life? Could you benefit from slowing down and seeing things through to completion? Try not multi-tasking (within reason, of course) today, and let me know how it goes! Did you notice a difference? Did you get more done (and done better)?