How to Pull the Plug on Multitasking

So you are tired of feeling frazzled, stressed, and reactive. You can see that multitasking stresses you out and leaves you distracted, tired, and less productive.

Maybe you sense that it’s also contributing to that extra fifteen pounds you can’t seem to lose or sending your life out of balance.

Are you unsure—or even nervous—about kicking the habit?

Here are three simple steps you can take to quit excessive multitasking and start creating more mental peace, effectiveness, and wellbeing in your life.

  1. De-clutter your mind and put your to-do list on paper. If you’ve been doing three things at once for a while, you probably mentally multitask all the time. Remembering your to-do list and keeping multiple projects in focus is wearing you out. You can remove the mental pressure to remember everything by committing it to paper instead. Create a master to-do list. Put everything on it. Then refer to it daily to select the things you will focus on that day. Don’t cram them into your brain. Instead, transfer these to your smaller (written) list for the day.
  2. Be deliberate with your focus. Imagine aiming it like a flashlight. Break your day into chunks. Choose bursts of time in the size that works for you and your task (I recommend you aim for something between fifteen and ninety minutes). Decide at the start of each period what your single focus will be. Set a timer, and allow yourself to devote one hundred percent of yourself to this task. Right now, my focus is on writing this article. I don’t have other windows open on my computer, I’m not answering my phone, and I am not worrying about the other activities I have today, because I know that when the timer sounds, I will deliberately choose my focus again.
  3. Practice mindful eating. This is the step most busy working women resist, but it’s critical. Challenge yourself to be present with yourself when you eat. This creates a natural opportunity to check in or reconnect with yourself. If you are present and paying attention, you’ll get to savor your food (and why shouldn’t you!). You’ll have the opportunity to notice how you are feeling—not just how hungry you are, but what your stress level is like, any emotions or worries that need tending to, even physical tension that may be building up in your body. Mindful eating can be a great stress reliever. There’s a bonus payoff too—mindful eaters eat less and feel more satisfied with what they eat.

The opposite of multitasking is deliberateness, focus, and presence—three key effectiveness building strategies. The more you practice, play with, and tweak these three basic steps to fit your own life, the more easily you’ll gravitate towards a focused present lifestyle (and find new ways to keep it flowing).

Leave a comment below and let me know where you struggle with multitasking and any ways you’ve found to bring things back to one-task-at-a-time.

Take good care,

Melissa McCreery

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