Tuesday, December 1, 2009


So, what have I been doing since Augtober?

Eh, a little of this, a little of that. It's amazing how time flies when you're not really accomplishing anything. You would think, with as many different things as I try to do, something would get done. I mean, what are the odds? Random, dumb luck should take over at some point and finish up at least one project.

It's the old infinite monkey theorem. Give a room full of monkeys typewriters and sooner or later one of them will pound out the works of Shakespeare. Ooops, I guess the secret to my blogging is out now. Of course the primates have a much easier time of it with my prose than with iambic pentameter:
Forsooth, I have forsworn the use of "thou."
The apes protest the ban and cry "alas."
Enough, I say, you pain me in my ...

Yeah, well, monkey kibble doesn't buy the same quality text it once did. It does explain the proliferation of limericks, though.

But I don't have a room full of monkeys. It's just me and my inability to say "No. I can't do that. I'm busy." I know I'm not the only one with that disability. I'm not even in the same league as some people who juggle multiple projects, jobs and volunteer positions. And I don't want to be.

I recently read an article about a man who noticed he was being pulled in too many directions and decided to make a bold move: He decided to spend an entire month single-tasking.

He didn't talk on the phone while putting away dishes. He didn't try to supervise homework while making dinner. He didn't fold laundry while surfing the net.

When he spoke with someone he gave them his full attention. When he worked on a project, he worked only on that project until it was complete. Then, and only then, he moved on to the next task.

Wow. What a concept. I was fascinated. I was ready to convert. I could single task. I could! And I would!

Then the Little Prince knocked on the bathroom door and asked if I could help him.

It took a couple of days, but eventually I finished the article. The author must have had some serious single-tasking time to dedicate to writing, or maybe his own room full of monkeys, or maybe he had just trained his children not to bother him while he was in the bathroom. Whatever his secret was, I wanted it.

The author warned that it took him a couple of days to adapt to single-tasking. He even enlisted the help of his wife keep him focused. I considered asking His Royal Highness, the King, to help me stay on track, but that would be asking him to multi-task and seemed like cheating.

In other words, trying to single-task cold turkey didn't work. In fact, I'm not sure I have ever had a sustained single-tasking experience lasting more than a min- (gotta switch the laundry) -ute. But I have become more aware of my multi-taskingness. I think I have cut back from capitol "M" Multi to lowercase "m" multi. And best of all, I have actually finished a few projects!

That first feeling of accomplishment was so sweet! And it encouraged me to focus on another project and finish it! And other, and another.... It was like a row of dominoes falling, or the leading edge of an avalanche.

In fact, I was so efficient I decided to take on a few more projects. So tomorrow, between doing loads of laundry, I'll be getting the crafts ready for CCD, and while I've got the glue gun out I'll work on a new wreath for Mom, so that will be done when I run to the bank on my way to the post office before picking up the kids for piano lessons to check on the information for PTO and finishing the newsletter after cross-checking the mailing list.

I think I'm getting the hang of this single-tasking.

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