Guest post by Leo Babauta
You’re working on two projects at once, while your boss has placed two new demands on your desk. You’re on the phone while three new emails come in. You are trying to get out the door on time so you can pick up a few groceries on the way home for dinner. Your Blackberry is going off and so is your cell phone. Your co-worker stops by with a request for info and your Google Reader is filled with 100+ messages to read.
You are juggling tasks with a speed worthy of Ringling Bros. Congratulations, multitasker.
In this age of instant technology, we are bombarded with an overload of information and demands of our time. This is part of the reason GTD is so popular in the information world — it’s a system designed for quick decisions and for keeping all the demands of your life in order. But even if we are using GTD, sometimes we are so overwhelmed with things to do that our system begins to fall apart.
Life Hack recently posted How to Multi-task, and it’s a good article on the nature of multi-tasking and how to do it while still focusing on one task at a time.
This post is How NOT to Multi-task — a guide to working as simply as possible for your mental health.
First, a few quick reasons not to multi-task:
- Multi-tasking is less efficient, due to the need to switch gears for each new task, and the switch back again.
- Multi-tasking is more complicated, and thus more prone to stress and errors.
- Multi-tasking can be crazy, and in this already chaotic world, we need to reign in the terror and find a little oasis of sanity and calm.
Here are some tips on how NOT to multi-task:
- First set up to-do lists for different contexts (i.e. calls, computer, errands, home, waiting-for, etc.) depending on your situation.
- Have a capture tool (such as a notebook) for instant notes on what needs to be done.
- Have a physical and email inbox (as few inboxes as possible) so that all incoming stuff is gathered together in one place (one for paper stuff, one for digital).
- Plan your day in blocks, with open blocks in between for urgent stuff that comes up. You might try one-hour blocks, or half-hour blocks, depending on what works for you. Or try this: 40 minute blocks, with 20 minutes in between them for miscellaneous tasks.
- First thing in the morning, work on your Most Important Task. Don’t do anything else until this is done. Give yourself a short break, and then start on your next Most Important Task. If you can get 2-3 of these done in the morning, the rest of the day is gravy.
- When you are working on a task in a time block, turn off all other distractions. Shut off email, and the Internet if possible. Shut off your cell phone. Try not to answer your phone if possible. Focus on that one task, and try to get it done without worrying about other stuff.
- If you feel the urge to check your email or switch to another task, stop yourself. Breathe deeply. Re-focus yourself. Get back to the task at hand.
- If other things come in while you’re working, put them in the inbox, or take a note of them in your capture system. Get back to the task at hand.
- Every now and then, when you’ve completed the task at hand, process your notes and inbox, adding the tasks to your to-do lists and re-figuring your schedule if necessary. Process your email and other inboxes at regular and pre-determined intervals.
- There are times when an interruption is so urgent that you cannot put it off until you’re done with the task at hand. In that case, try to make a note of where you are (writing down notes if you have time) with the task at hand, and put all the documents or notes for that task together and aside (perhaps in an “action” folder or project folder). Then, when you come back to that task, you can pull out your folder and look at your notes to see where you left off.
- Take deep breaths, stretch, and take breaks now and then. Enjoy life. Go outside, and appreciate nature. Keep yourself sane.
The battle of life is, in most cases, fought uphill; and to win it without a struggle were perhaps to win it without honor. If there were no difficulties there would be no success; if there were nothing to struggle for, there would be nothing to be achieved. ~Samuel Smiles
What are you making of your life?
As I was watching this video tonight, I got chills at the part that Les Brown says “I think the challenge is to begin to become in alignment with who we truly are and work diligently to manifest our greatness.”
I have been saying this for years and I didn’t even know he said it. When I was given a disease I neither wanted nor appreciated at the young age of 22 years old, all I could think was “Why me?” Everyone else was happy and having a great time and there I was with SPF 50 trying not to pull a Vampire Diaries moment and burn up as I hit the sun. We are not going to go into the rest of the diseases and nonsense that followed with my way of thinking, but I will tell you that I was destined for greatness just like this video says.
I was destined to find my way out of that black put of despair, to fight through pain and agony that lasted years, and to come out on top saying I told you so! I told you. I am in control of me. I am. So I want you to watch this, and ponder moments you have thought you were not worthy of greatness nor did you deserve it, because the bottom line is, yes you do.
So as I pondered this for my upcoming content in my Head|Heart|Health Club, I have to say to all of you watching this, it’s you. You got this. If this inspired you in any way to take more action in your life, let me know.
The waves of energy from you guys, my readers on the fan page for the blog, have been almost knocking me over. This leaves me feeling some energy that I would like to calm right now. It is a feeling of general “unsettledness”…which might not really be a word, but basically it is a feeling of unease.
What the heck is going on??
I can tell you. It is a new year and with that comes the desire that is so strong to change ourselves and leave this old nonsense behind. We are done. DONE with blocks to our future. We are DONE with this past nonsense that tries to come back to haunt us like Jacob Marley. Not Bob, that would be okay. We are DONE trying to make sense of what is happening in the future. And the truth is, all of this is okay. We need to learn to be content with where we are.
Old wounds do, from time to time, split open. THAT my friends, is the place where growth happens. It’s messy and sticky and uncomfortable. We want to put the band-aid back on our souls, my God we do. But what if it is bleeding so much we can’t use a band-aid right now? What if we need to clean it up a little, find the source of the pain, and then start to heal? <<< that is where we are right now. And I feel it so close to the surface for so many people right now I am about to burst wide open myself. But guess what? It’s exciting!
We are shifting into our purpose, so get ready.
AS we shift, that energy is messy. It makes us feel unsettled and we might bounce from idea to idea or topic to topic until the right one clicks into place. It’s like we are breaking into our soul vault and we don’t know the combination. That is why we are feeling this way. We are getting closer to the correct combination. Heck, maybe we only are one number away. But we have to be willing to stick this out my friends.
5 signs you are making the shift:
- Your past is trying to haunt you. Jacob and his chains are all over. I know that they make a lot of noise, but in reality, they can’t hurt you. They are merely trying to get your attention that it is time to move on from that.
- Signs keep coming up that show help is near. The perfect article on what you are feeling is right there. The friend you have been thinking about calls. The feather in your path might signify heavenly help is near. Rainbows appear. The numbers change to 11:11 or 3:33. 11 is a powerful number of dreams, intuitive illumination, and connection with Spirit.
- You are a bit moody. Look out! You might feel weepy, angry, unworthy and just plain over it right now. It is normal, but let’s help this part pass. In my Head|Heart|Health Club, we are working on really shifting into the feeling we want, and getting clear on what makes us happy. I want you to practice that too. So when you are in a mood, get clear on the exact emotional trigger that caused it. Use a thesaurus if you need to and write down the opposite of that word and then write out what makes you feel supported and ________. <<< the opposite of how you feel now.
- You are ready to pick a fight with anyone who will listen…including yourself. This is the build up of energy and it needs a place to go. Have you gone on a walk, gotten out of the house, taken a nice epsom salt bath or re-charged with your favorite things lately? What are you doing for you?? Seriously. Use the search button on side here and read more about self-care or explore my online catalog if you’d like to try your hand at my Gratitude E-book Self-guided Journal. Find ways to shift this energy into thankfulness for the good in your life.
- Your about to make a big break-through and then your heater goes out and money is due here, here and here. We have to let go of this feeling of lack. This happened because we needed to shift into the thinking that everything is going to truly be okay and everything we need will be provided for us. Sure, not everyone feels this way. This leads to scarcity feelings and it leads us to panic. It is normal. Totally normal to have a flip out just as you thought your life was coming together and something bizarre happens. <<< I have had so many of these things happen it is not funny. I should make you a list to make you feel better…you probably wouldn’t believe the amount of stuff that happens to me like this. BUT, I am not going to dwell on it right now. I had to write out a big check the other day, and I just said with gratitude that I was happy to be giving this man my money to fix my heat.
Trust me on this, you are not alone. If you have been reading my blog for a while you know there are years that take from me, and years that give. We have to accept a few truths. We can’t go back. We are not always going to feel the same way and there are times none of this makes a bit of sense to us. Trust me on this, but in the end, the pieces are really going to fit together and you will be surprised at the whole picture. The dust will settle and the outlook will really be much better. Let’s work on shifting into a comfortable flow this year. The work on the inside will lead you to greater results on the outside.
Speak to you soon. ~Aimee