Multi-tasking is one of the biggest lies of our time. Saying “I am good at multi tasking” is like saying “I am easily distracted and only able achieve very little throughout the day.” In our hyper-connected world, I feel the ever-present pull to be distracted. And that makes it difficult to get work done.
One of the best examples in my life is email. The little beep that my cell phone makes when I get an email is one of the most stressful noises in my life. The mix of knowing that someone is trying to reach me, that the message could potentially be important, and the unspoken expectation for emails to be answered quickly, all add up to create an immense pressure to check the email. But the reality is that if I checked every email, I would not have the time to do real work.
So now, in a time where it feels like the world wants to be more connected, I am actively trying to disconnect.
In Judaism there is a concept of resting on the Sabbath, which includes not working. I observe the Jewish Sabbath, during which I go completely off the grid. I experience an immense weekly relief when Friday night comes, partly because I know that it is almost impossible to reach me. Knowing that helps me relax, and in my more relaxed state I am more focused, more attentive, and overall happier.
I am trying to achieve a watered down version of that disconnect in my work life in order to have the mind space and focus to be able to get my work done. Starting two months ago I don’t answer phone calls from numbers that I do not recognize, I ignore emails, and I schedule times to work on specific tasks (including answering emails). It is working for me right now, but is not ideal because there are communications that I would like to answer more quickly than I do. (Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated).
Last night I turned off the noise my phone makes when I get emails. It is one more step in my effort to move from multi-talking to single-tasking. I want to have all my energy focused on one task at a time: whether that task be working on a spreadsheet, going for a run, or eating dinner with my family.
**In case you are wondering: I am averaging a 33% goal completion on a daily basis from what I set out to do in my last blog post. A couple people have pointed out how I have been slacking- thank you to them.