living well

So how did you do?

4 Comments 17 October 2012

With practicing Mindfulness, I mean. Remember a couple of weeks ago I wrote a post on why Multitasking is Bad Stuff and encouraged people to try Mindfulness for a week with me? I know some of you did it, how did it work for you?

It was completely fantastic for me!

When I did it.

Multitasking is a difficult habit to break. I actually felt guilty when I wasn’t multitasking as if in some way I was being lazy or not Making Enough Effort. But the logical area of my brain kept stepping in and reminding the emotional side that actually, I might get more done if I just try to be mindful and focus on one thing at a time.

And every time I stopped trying to reply to work emails/making dinner/helping with homework, every time I stopped trying to do the laundry/feed the cats/talk on the phone with work or friends, every time I stopped tidying the house/planning meals and a grocery list/texting those three people I forgot to text yesterday… every time I stopped myself and just did one thing at a time, I got past that first 30 seconds of panic then settled into a deliberately focused experience and began to feel much calmer. And I discivered several things:

1. I did a better job at that one thing than if I had been multitasking.

2. I got that one job done more quickly than if I combined it with other jobs — the myth that by multitasking three jobs at the same time for an hour, you get more done in that hour than if you do one job is proven false. It just means that although you plan to get those three things done in an hour it actually takes you an hour and 45 minutes, which then makes you late for something else which then stresses you out, which then has a knock on effect for the rest of the day.

3. I felt more relaxed and more capable of moving on to the next job on the list without feeling stressed or in a hurry (because I had finished the first job earlier than expected).

4. I felt less tired at the end of the day. Because I didn’t feel like I was running in circles.

5. I felt more prepared to cope with new jobs or stressors that came up unexpectedly. You know how you feel so worn out and so busy that when someone comes along and says ‘oh I need this done right now!’ you get really crazy frustrated and feel like screaming? Maybe thats just me. But anyway, I didnt feel like that at all when I was mindfully doing one thing at a time.

My Expat Roundup this month is all about transitions and I’ve used the idea of mindfulness as one way of coping with transitions. Check it out here, Expat Roundup for some other links, including a good link on Mindfulness. Expats feel the big obvious transitions that those around us don’t really experience, but we also experience the smaller, everyday transitions that we share with everyone else. Mindfulness can help with both. This is sounding like a Mindfulness advert! Well, I guess it is in a way.

Now you’re on your own. Go on and try some more Mindfulness and see how it feels for you! And if you feel like it, come back here and let me know.

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4 Comments so far

  1. Do agree that mindfulness is really helpful – (in eating slowly & actually enjoying food as well) – but I am such an adrenalin junkie I find it really hard to stick to. Have found that even just spending 5 to 10 minutes a day doing something in a really focused way does help to calm me down though :-)

  2. Tammy says:

    I must admit that multi-tasking is a hard habit to break. I was not nearly as diligent as you. I was, however, faced with a daunting task that kept not getting done while I was doing other things. I finally turned off all distractions and sat there and did it.

    I fully relate with your “30 seconds of panic”. Mine lasted longer, and when I ran into some difficulty I would immediately look for another task, but I persevered. The results were so much better than when I do things with interruptions.

    I’d like to think that this positive result would encourage me to stop multi-tasking. If nothing else, it will show me that doing it right once is much better than having to edit something that was written in fits and starts.

    Thanks for your encouragement.

  3. Expat Mum says:

    I find, after a day of planned mindfulness, that my sense of achievement is so much greater. I don’t feel like I’ve done a million and one things half-arsed, but that what i did was well and truly taken care of AND I know where I put it all when I’d finished! Score!

  4. Interesting and you talk so much sense here. I find myself managing things better these days and I think it is because I am doing as you suggest and taking one thing at a time a lot more. Also refusing to be all things to all people. Since Dad passed on, I seem to have got some of his good habits and am that much more organised.
    Great post my dear.


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