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Why (and how) I’m breaking my habit of multi-tasking

For a few years I’ve been on a simplicity journey. My “why” when it started was being so burnt out from constantly packing too much into my schedule. Yet I couldn’t stop the trend. Even though I was noticing at a soul level the pace wasn’t working, I was still buying things I didn't need and committing to too much that I could handle.

This post is about multi-tasking. I’ve been going through all the simplicity and minimalism “steps”…if there were steps. I’ve been trying to cut back our stuff by donating, be mindful of our schedules, limit screen time when possible…and overall we’ve been so happy with the changes. YET…I can’t seem to break my addiction with multi-tasking. Just the other day I almost proudly told my mom that I can go on a walk with Marley and listen to a book on tape, which means I get to be outside, get some exercise, and receive “training” hours for the one category in my licensing requirements. Wow, every multi-taskers dream! My mom said, “you’re always figuring out ways to multi-task.” Yes, I am, and this is still something I’m trying to work on.

As I reflect, here are reasons breaking my bond with multi-tasking is so hard for me. I’m hoping you can relate!

1) My pride and joy is found in my ability to be efficient

Who am I if I’m not doing things efficiently and quickly? It’s been engrained in me since I was a little girl to work hard and work quickly. I know it’s been passed down from generations within my family because I have seen it as a trend. It’s in our family DNA. We are hard-workers.

Yet, recently I read a quote from Courtney Carver that stood out to me. She said, “Hard work isn’t always a sign of good work.” Oh boy, she totally called me out! I am not always doing good work. I’ve been so prideful that I can do it all…be a full time doctoral student, work full time, keep a house clean, cook meals…but is that something to be proud of?

Here is a question if you can relate to this…

What are we robbing ourselves of by being so efficient?

I realized my moments of being so efficient, I’m losing out on something else. By working so hard while in school, I gained an income, which was needed. BUT I also missed out on actually reading a large portion of the material (don’t tell! I become a pro skimmer). Even now, when I listen to my books on tape while walking I miss out on mindfully walking, noticing the sites and sounds around me. Efficiency can mean we are missing out something else, even if it is missing out on being really tuned into the present moment. A definition of mindfulness is being tuned into the present moment with full awareness and without judgement. When we multi-task, is it even possible to be fully tuned in? I think not.

2) I have goals, and I want them NOW

Ugh…patience is not my virtue. If I want goals now, then I must multi-task. That’s what I think. What I realize about my goals is I want to meet them JUST so I can then move onto the next thing in life. But, is my life so bad right now? No. I actually love it. So why am I trying to rush through it? Part of it is because, again, it’s a learned way from watching others in my life. But I’m not going to play the blame game. I’m now in a place to move forward with awareness and say that my choice to always be about the next thing is ON ME.

I can have goals and still fully appreciate the current situation. I still multi-task, but this mindset shift has been so helpful. We can be forward thinking while practicing presence and mindfulness in the current life we have. And it’s a pretty darn good life!

If you can relate, here’s a question or two…

Are you also always eager to get to the “next thing”? Do you need to say “no” to any of your tasks to focus on what’s most important? Does your timeline need to shift at all so you can enjoy the present moment?

The second question has been on that has been helping me a lot. I struggle to say “no” to more tasks because I want multiple things. But with each opportunity that pops up I’ve learned to picture a stream…and if the opportunity is in flow with the stream of water. Does it help me continue in the direction I’m going? If not, even if it’s a great opportunity, I say no. It’s been SO helpful.

Well, I hope this was helpful! I often like to be in the seat of “expert” before I write about something, but I decided to write about this topic anyway in hopes that my struggle to lessen my go-to habit of multi-tasking can help you as well. It’s been getting better, but I think this will always be something for me I need to keep in check. And remember, don’t fall into the trap of saying “once I reach this goal I will be able to cut back.” Because if you’re a typical multi-tasker, it’s not likely your next goal will end things for you. Just be honest with yourself (as I have to be with myself). That’s why I see that everything I need to change is in my life right now. It’s not once I arrive at my goal. IT’S RIGHT NOW.

I wish you the best as you focus on what’s most important. Happy rooting, everyone!

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