Single task

April 7, 2021

Single tasking may be the hardest one for me. At any given point throughout the day I am bombarded with thoughts swirling around in my head. Mainly they are pertaining to my list of things I want to get done. Not only that, the list of things I should have already accomplished, but didn’t. This […]

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Single tasking may be the hardest one for me. At any given point throughout the day I am bombarded with thoughts swirling around in my head. Mainly they are pertaining to my list of things I want to get done. Not only that, the list of things I should have already accomplished, but didn’t. This is a dangerous game to play. I literally find myself at times, sitting there frozen, not moving or doing anything from the simple fact that I want to do all the things. When I write it down, it doesn’t make sense, but when I am in the thick of it, I truly cannot be productive in that way. 

The truth is that our brain is not designed to multi task. When we try to(and oh boy do we try) it almost always ends in frustration and guilt because we “can’t” keep up. Our minds can go a million different directions, but our bodies cannot. 

I have found the idea of single tasking, doing one thing at a time, and being fully in it, aware of what you are doing and how you are doing it, to be very challenging but also very effective. Approaching my day in this way removes a lot of the stress that is often paired with my never ending and ever growing to do list. 

When I put this into practice, and lord knows that is not all the time, but when I do, I find myself able to stay in the zone and finish whatever it is I started. That right there is a win. A really good example of this is laundry. Man oh man, I can get the laundry started, into the washer and switched to the dryer like a champ. But when it comes time to fold and put away, forget about it. Those poor clothes usually hang out in a few different spots that are not our drawers or closets. They will either remain in the basket, or be dumped out onto the bed(because if I do that I will certainly HAVE to fold them right?) or half are folded and half remain untouched. 

This is simply one of many examples that I know we can all relate to. In world where we are have so many options and stimulation, our days so easily get filled up with tasks that we had not planned on doing and in the meantime the ones we set out to do are left flapping in the breeze. 

With all that being said, I have found a few things to be helpful when I find myself wanting to jump from thing to thing like Im a freakin rabbit. 

First, I make a master list to get everything out of my head, all the crazy thoughts floating around and distracting me, I write them down in one place. Then I look at that list, and I hold it up next to my day. From there I decide what I can reasonably tackle and accomplish. Typically that list is between 3-5 things. The temptation is huge to add more or to get in the zone and think I can do more of that thing once I finished the task on the list(writing is a good example of this). However, I try to stay disciplined and focused so I am able to fulfill the goals I set out to do at the beginning of the day. 

This is sometimes easier said than done, but when I stick to this approach I am able to feel the pride of finishing and I feel like I accomplished what I set out to do. Then if I am able to do more, awesome, if not, thats ok to, tomorrow is a new day. 

I also find it useful to train my mind to stay focused on what I am doing. This is a work in progress, but for instance, when I am brushing my teeth. Something I do everyday, and its so automatic that it doesn’t take much brainpower. Instead of having music or a podcast going, I will try to be very aware of the act of bruising my teeth. Putting the toothpaste on, how it feels in my mouth, you get the idea. This helps me to remember what it feels like to be mindful and is an easy way to flex that muscle. 

Many times I think moms especially hold up being a multi tasker as a badge of honor, but the truth is that its hindering our ability to fully live in the present. Overall, keeping it simple is the name of the game. Focus on one thing at a time and be proud of yourself for that.

 

Action Steps

1. Create a master list of all your to do’s

2.  Narrow that list down to your top 3-5 things you know you can and will do today, cross them off as you go and pat yourself on the back!

3. As you move through your day, pick 2 things you do all the time and really practice fully being there and doing only that thing: notice sights, sounds, and sensations. Example: brushing teeth and making a pot of coffee. 

Helpful Resources

Single Task and Slow down

Ideas for Single Tasking    

The Art of single tasking  

I'm Sarah, a mom on a mission to simplify and create space in every area of my life. 

I help women clarify their priorities, optimize their energy and design rhythms that promote a healthy and consistent balance each and every day. 

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