Multi-tasking into distraction

Photo courtesy of Brandy - dieselbug2007 (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of Brandy – dieselbug2007 (Creative Commons)

It is so easy to lose track and become caught up in distractions. Just this morning, I had the local news on the tv, checking on the possible bad weather headed our way, going through email (where do they all come from?), fingering the stacks of papers on my desk that I didn’t finish processing yesterday, and hearing texts chiming in. In the midst of all that noise, I forgot what I even sat down at my desk to do.

So I turned it all off.

Turned off the tv, moved the papers aside to be gone through later, and turned off the email and the phone.

Ahhh. Silence. Well, not quite silence. Now I can hear the rain on the roof.

And now I can focus on writing, which is what I had planned to do originally, before all the noise.

One of my challenges is learning to do one thing at a time. I am the queen of multi-tasking, and all that means is that I dabble in all sorts of things but don’t do any of them well. Multi-tasking leads to mistakes, misunderstandings and missed opportunities.

As I begin a new year, I am learning to navigate my three words (read more here), one of which is MOMENT. As you can guess, being focused on the moment means eliminating those other distractions, and not trying to do more than one thing at a time. It means being more organized so that I carve out time to do the other things that need doing – like checking email or processing those papers – but not when I need to be writing. Or having a conversation. Or working on a project.

It also means setting some limits or I will end up checking email for hours. Open this one, which leads to this website, which leads to a blog – have you done that? Before you know it, you can lose an entire afternoon that way.

For me, it is going to mean using my calendar more deliberately so that I set some boundaries and make sure I get to do all the things I want and need to do. There are all sorts of tools that can help me, including apps for my phone, timers, etc. I will be experimenting to see what works best so that my work will not expand to fill the time, but that I am DIRECTING (another of my three words) my activities and ensuring the right things are getting done.

What are some ways you can eliminate distractions and become more focused?

2 thoughts on “Multi-tasking into distraction

  1. Carol, this is the third time I’ve heard and read about the disadvantages of multitasking within the past month! (Jay Papasan and Peter Bregman both had interesting things to say about it.)

    Your word “moment” is good to remind yourself to do one thing at a time. I went searching for the antonym of “multi-task” and gave up. Solo, single, one – none of those did it for me. I think the word “now” would work.

    Instead of finding a word, I have a short mental list that includes “Do one thing at a time”.

    • I think “now” is a good reminder to stay focused, as is the phrase “do one thing at a time.” I guess in our world today, it’s easier to get caught up in the distractions and harder to just focus, but so much more effective. Thanks for stopping by!

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