Nobody blinks an eye when someone crosses the road while looking at his phone or if someone is watching the television while flipping through a magazine. In this fast-paced world, we pride ourselves in doing multiple things at a time and devouring distraction as if it’s fuel. It seems we have lost the joy of doing one thing at a time.
We have too many things to do and too little time to do it seems to be the modern- day mantra. Remember what it was like when you were a kid? You can play with the same Lego set for hours and sit absolutely still watching your favorite cartoon. Let’s take a deep breath, slow down, and reclaim the joy of simpler times. A time where we can focus on doing one thing at a time.
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Focus Gives You Productivity
Research shows that when we are stressed from trying to complete a few tasks at hand, our minds tend to drift to other things other than the task at hand. This means trying to do a few things at one time will backfire on you. Wondering why you tend to procrastinate? Perhaps you are piling your plate too full. So, focus on one task at a time. Get a list ready so you can check it off methodically – one task at a time.
Say No to Multitasking
Multitasking means constantly switching from one task to another. When we are distracted, it takes about fifteen minutes to fully concentrate again on the task at hand. “When we do several things at once, they take more time, and we are less productive,” says Sjoukje van de Kolk in her book Aandacht (“Attention”).
Psychologist and mindfulness coach Rob Brandsma advises, “When you speak, speak. When you listen, listen. When you drive your car, drive your car. Do something until you are done. After you are done, then you can move on to the next thing.” Concentrate and be present in the moment so you can do the thing well and also fully embrace the moment. Nothing robs joy out of the present than thinking about something else you need to accomplish.
Schedule a Time to Do Nothing
Slot a time into your diary to do nothing and see how it will transform you. “Often this takes a lot of discipline, because the minute we have nothing to do, we start doing the laundry or painting the door because it has to get done. Firstly, my clients see that the world doesn’t stop spinning if they don’t do anything for a while, and, secondly, they discover how enjoyable it is to sometimes do nothing,” says philosophical consultant Harm van der Gaag.
Secret Recipe for Happiness
Many people search for the secret to happiness, and some even go to the length of selling off their belongings to travel the world. What if we don’t want to do something so drastic? Is happiness then forever out of our reach? Writer Marjoleine de Vos thinks there’s hope for all of us to find happiness. She calls consciously doing one thing at a time the recipe for happiness. “Nothing is better than fully opening up to what you are doing, whether it’s gardening, reading, listening, or bird-watching. Instead of doing a little of many things at the same time, doing them one at a time is more efficient and more enjoyable.”
If you are a believer in resolutions, how about including this one? Here is to not trying to do it all at once. For more great tips on how to be mindful and embrace moments in life, get a copy of A Book That Takes Its Time by Irene Smit and Astrid van der Hulst here.