If you are a multitasker, your ability to get things done is seriously compromised by it. Don’t worry, I have come up with some ideas. (Or, how yoga taught me to be more productive.)
Multitasking is the ability to perform more than one task, or activity, at the same time. For example, speaking on the phone while driving a car.
Since the 1960s, psychologists have conducted experiments on the nature and limits of human multitasking. It’s now clear that multitasking is really just switching rapidly between tasks; which slows down and reduces the quality of your work, and your personal well being.
Psychiatrist Edward M. Hallowell has gone so far as to describe multitasking as: “a mythical activity in which people believe they can perform two or more tasks simultaneously as effectively as one.”
Multitasking can result in time wasted due to human context switching and becoming prone to errors due to insufficient attention.
Some experiments have been demonstrated that it is possible to divide one’s attention among several tasks, but how successfully, depends on several factors such as how much practice one has with it or the difficulty of the task.
If one becomes proficient at two tasks, it is possible to rapidly shift attention between the tasks and perform the tasks well.
But if we are talking about being more efficient and productive with our work, businesses, life or studies, then we are talking about engaging in tasks that are important and might require your full attention.
How do you know if multitasking is a problem for you?
Do you feel like there’s never enough time to tackle that project that will take you closer to your goals?
Or, you seem to be spending way too much time in finishing certain to-dos.
Maybe you are always searching for time management tools that will make your life easier.
And you are never able to find that precious oasis of time to focus for long enough on something.
What if I tell you that you don’t need 2 or 4 hours to get something done? What if it’s not the length of time you dedicate to the task that matters?
What if I tell you that, like in yoga, what you need is… Attention and Intention.
In other words, it’s not about length but about depth.
You need to be intentional with your work, decide what are you going to do and why (see note at the bottom of page). Then engage your full focus and attention.
I’ve come up with a few steps that might help you:
- Look at your to-do list and decide what task are you going to tackle. What it requires and what’s the end goal.
- Put a timer on, let’s say 40 or 50 min but it can also be 20. Decide on how much time you need in step 1 and if it’s a project with multiple steps, choose one. No more than 1 hr.
- Remove ALL distractions (including emails, phone, etc). If your task requires using the internet (like research), only keep open the tabs that are pertinent to the task.
- Focus deeply on the job at hand. Put attention.
- Take a break. Decide if you are going to continue with that particular task or focus on a different one….
… and… (don’t skip step 6 before going back to 1)
6. Switch intentionally, so there’s no residue of the previous task and you can dedicate your attention to the new one. How? There are different ways, and maybe you can use different tactics on different days. From going out for a walk, to make some tea, to even schedule a more menial task in between.
I’d like to invite you to try this short meditation. It will help you ‘reset’ your attention and will make the switching of tasks more intentional.
It takes less than 10 minutes but once you’ve done it once, you can skip the intro, taking you just a few minutes.
What does all this got to do with yoga, you ask?
I spent all my adult professional life working in the theatre, where you are required to focus at a very deep level, especially when you are on stage or when you are directing. I developed a sense of deep engagement and of being ‘in the flow’, but I could only apply it when I was engaged in a deeply satisfying creative task.
It’s been through yoga and meditation that found more direct tools to help my focus. I especially noticed a big shift when I started meditating regularly. I was much more focused at work and able to tick as done many more to-dos.
So, I discovered that the tools that yoga offers us are very similar to those of drama when it comes to self-development, but are much more accessible to everyone.
The time you spend on the mat both in physical asana practice or in meditation will have an impact on your life outside the mat. That’s for sure.
NOTE: WHY you are doing a particular task is one of the most important parts and sometimes it’s ignored. That’s your intention. And without that, it’s so easy to get distracted or just start doing something else.
You don’t need to decide the why every time, you only need to do that when you set up your goals, which can be done every quarter, or every month, or even every week.
If you want to know more about ‘intentional goal setting’, check out my course Reset and Create a Vision for the Future.
Are you curious about other benefits that yoga can bring to your life?
Is there any other area you are struggling with?
Let me know in the comments and I’ll try my best to address it!