This is the first in a series of posts that I am reprising in the spirit of Asilomar, the breathtaking patch of Northern California coastline which inspired them in the first place. It is my attempt to motivate you to join me there on the Monterey Peninsula on Saturday, Feb. 12 for the Plunge at Asilomar, my next one-day retreat. Read more and then register to attend. In the bustle and fury that accompanies the first working day of the new year, I suggest you allow yourself to do just one thing at a time. You will be amazed at what you get done in no time at all.
I would have written this post earlier but I had a million things to do, and I did them one at a time.
I am a monotasker. By that I mean I do things one at a time. I used to think I was a multitasker. Now I’m not so sure that anyone is a multitasker, although many people think they are quite good at it, and even want to give people advice on how to become better at it themselves.
Learning how to be a better multitasker seems to me like learning to speak another language so you can have multiple personalities. An interesting process but you still end up insane.
During the time in my life when I considered myself a world-class multitasker, I was the head of a company. I worked all the time, doing a lot of different projects, for a lot of different clients, with a busy staff of people. It felt like I was doing everything, all the time, all at once, but I ended most days feeling like nothing got done! Sort of like this:
I suppose because we have more than one hand, we believe that we can do more than one thing at a time. But the brain doesn’t work like that. We have only one brain, and it pays attention to only one thing at a time. You might argue that you fold laundry while watching TV, two things at once. But if you could slow your mind down enough to follow the focus of your attention, you’d see that for one split-second, you were folding the towel, then for the next split-second, you heard a snippet of dialogue. Everyone’s mind is quick and facile, but only focuses on one thing at a time. You took longer to fold the towels and you missed the punch line. The fact is, we are so distracted so much of the time, so overstimulated and preoccupied, that we aren’t paying attention to much of anything at all.
Being a monotasker doesn’t mean you do things slowly. It means you do things singly. And that’s what gets them done. As a mother, you are a megamonotasker. You do a million things a day, one at a time. Your job is to focus your attention on what is in front of you, and let your attention do the job. Attention can do anything, because attention is love.