Multitasking Is Doing You More Harm Than Good. Here's An Alternative.
The mastery of multitasking is seen as a worthwhile, and women-centric pursuit in the world today. But wellness author, lifestyle maven and birth doula, Latham Thomas, has other ideas.
How many times have you done just one thing at a time? Women are masterful multitaskers. With the über-busy, high-speed lives we lead these days, multitasking isn’t simply the norm, it’s the rule. I’m convinced that much of our modern stress is caused by a feeling that time is escaping us.
We somehow feel the need to run to the place we are going, and we are racing through life just trying to get everything done in some impossible time frame. What type of life does that leave us living?
One really important lesson I’ve learned over time is to slow down and do one thing at a time. How can I possibly be productive if I am doing one thing at a time? How present are you when you are doing multiple tasks at once? If you allow yourself to do just one thing—from beginning to finish—limiting your external distractions, you actually do get more done. Focusing on one thing, bringing your attention to your intention, helps you stay the course and minimizes the feeling of perpetual overwhelm.
My friend Arianna Huffington, founder of Thrive Global and New York Times best-selling author of The Sleep Revolution, says that multitasking is the downfall of modern society. Do the easiest things first, the things that feel pleasurable to do, because you will accomplish these tasks with ease and efficiency and without much effort.
Uni-tasking in action
I know it’s not easy to do one thing at a time when you can do three, but uni-tasking means that rather than cooking dinner while talking on the phone and watching TV, you leave your phone on the charger and prepare a healthy meal with total concentration, love, and awareness. The art of uni-tasking allows me to read a book to my son as he prepares for bed, making us both feel more relaxed as we wind down for the night.
It’s in our nature to be able to juggle so many things, but with the speed at which we live, it feels good to slow it down. When we think about what we are missing out on, it turns out that it’s usually the present moment. Surrender is not giving up; it’s giving over. It’s letting go, releasing. Slow down, listen, and reconfigure your to-do list accordingly so that you punctuate your life with the artful skill of uni-tasking.
Glow tips for unitasking
Prioritize: Figure out what you need in your schedule personally and professionally, and what you can legitimately take off your plate. What are the top three things you need to get done today?
Delegate: What systems and people need to be in place for you to offload some of your duties, and which of those duties can you completely give over to someone else to manage for you?
Set boundaries: Establish some really clear boundaries to operate by, and set a standard for when you shut off work mode. Phone-fast. Once a week, for a partial or full day, get off the phone and all electronics. Stop texting, checking Instagram, and all your feeds. Stay focused on your internal status.
Get present: Take a look at how you are actually spending your time. You want to be investing your time in memories and enjoying your life, not simply crossing off things on your to-do list and paying bills. I invite you to really start being mindful of the moment. Breathe deeply. Yes, you could be in a million other places right now, but you are here, so be here.
Stir It Up: When your energy is focused on the mundane tasks of day-to-day living, oftentimes, your passions can get shelved. And most of the time, you don’t even consciously realize that you’ve put your joy on hold. Do you recall a time as a child when your big-time aspirations were normal and everything seemed possible? You didn’t know how to do it all, but you knew it was possible, because you could envision it.
When the years start stacking and responsibilities pile up and when commitments to work, family duties, and financial constraints require more of your attention, your soul voice becomes overcast by the fear and trepidation that you must “make it happen.” Before you know it, you’ve shut the door on yourself and can’t seem to get clear on what you want in life, because all you can focus on is making ends meet.
Does this sound familiar? Do you believe it’s true? Do you believe that if you are following the path intended for you that you will be called upon to do things you don’t want to do? I believe that when we are given situations that appear to have a single and bleak outcome, it’s an opportunity to rise up, dive into our creativity, and stir up a solution from within.
Many of my friends lost their jobs during the 2008 financial crisis, and while some of them wallowed in self-pity, downsized their lifestyles, and slowly spent their savings, others thrived. My friend Tiffany, who had been a lawyer, reignited her passion for baking.
She had always loved to bake as a hobby, but suddenly, with all the time she had, there was an opportunity for her to grow a business—one that proved to be lucrative—her famous red-velvet cupcakes spiked with Rémy Martin were a hit. It was because she had been dealt a “bad hand” that she realized that she had the solution within. She could fall back on her passion.
The good news is, you don’t need to leave it to the universe completely. You can acknowledge your purpose now, own the dream you’ve decided on, and make it a priority today. There are many reasons that we don’t prioritize our life’s purpose. If we haven’t set clear intentions, then we might not know what we’re reaching for. Maybe we’re crystal clear on what we want, but we’re keeping it to ourselves instead of putting it out there in the world.
Or maybe we’re overwhelmed by the enormity of the undertaking, and so we don’t take that first fateful step. Let’s solve those problems now. Let’s make this transformation you’re seeking a reality. Let’s make this mission a priority so that the universe will see just how ready you are.
Excerpted from OWN YOUR GLOW: A Soulful Guide to Luminous Living and Crowning The Queen Within by Latham Thomas published by Hay House Inc. 2017.
Words: Latham Thomas