Misused Multi-tasking

Multi-tasking is so 2011.

Let 2012 be the year of focus! (i proclaim as I jump off my ball to refill my teacup before typing the next sentence…focus fail)

I love, love, love technology but lately I feel like it’s destroying my ability to focus on one task at a time.  While I type a post, check a patient in, even read blogs I have like a hundred little tabs eyeing me, tempting me to abandon whatever it is I’m working on.   I try to tell myself that this is time management; while one page is loading I have time to read an e-mail, check my blog stats, and maybe even fit in a push up or two.   It’s not just web-induced distractions either, I am a “pro”at cooking lunch, brewing tea for later, unloading grocery bags, catching up on my favorite t.v. shows, and planning my dance classes all within a 15 minute time frame.  Does it save time?  Maybe sometimes but it’s also contributing to my diminishing ability to focus on one thing at a time and follow through with it.

Yesterday I put myself to the test.  My to-do list was long but I made myself start with the least pleasant tasks at hand and see them all the way through directly to the end: no throwing in laundry mid-thought, no extra tabs on the screen, just one single objective.  Temptations were everywhere but I did well and in the end I don’t think it took me any longer than it would have otherwise, it just didn’t include any internet shopping along the way ;).

Yoga is an excellent tool for practicing focus but even my yoga practices have started out distracted lately.  I lay out my mat and for the first ~10 minutes of practice I find myself filled with thoughts of being anywhere/ doing anything else.  It’s not that the yoga doesn’t feel amazing for my body but my mind is so accustomed to the stimulation of multi-tasking that it struggles to drop in to the focus of yoga and just be there.  After the initial confusion my mind remembers what it’s like to single-task and by the end of the practice (which is sometimes just 15 minutes) I feel clearer and calmer than I do any other time in the day.   Then I return to old habits.

My multi-tasking habits had me in such a tailspin yesterday that I did the one thing that I knew would force me to stop and do nothing. I booked an acupuncture treatment.  I don’t mind needles but that doesn’t mean acupuncture feels good exactly but it always feels like just what I need at the time.  And laying on a table alone with needles stuck into so many places that I can’t even move is a hell of a lesson in being present and focused on one task at hand.

I can’t wait for my appointment tomorrow!

Do you find yourself doing a thousand things at every moment?  Or have you found that you function better if you focus on one thing at a time?  What tips do you have to stay focused even while trying to complete many things at once?