Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Monday(ish) Mantra: One thing at a time

I don't know about you, but one of the side effects of running my own business is that I constantly have other things to think about and a litany of things to do. Lately, with my personal stresses, it's meant that I'm experiencing multitasking run amok:

I am in the middle of breakfast, but also checking my email. I'm making lunch and also trying to do laundry. I'm planning questions for my next interview while meditating. I'm working on a query and also responding to an email and also working on edits.

I'm, in short, making myself crazy.

So for this week, my mantra is: One thing at a time.

When my mind starts racing to the next thing I have to do, I think "One thing at a time." When I'm checking email, and remember that I also want to check my bank account to see if a transfer went through, I think "one thing at a time." When I am checking on an invoice and I want to also slip in that one change to a story that's in edits, I think, "One thing at a time." When I am writing a draft and want to check email or read my Google Reader, I think "One thing at a time."

It's not just me. Research has shown for years that multitasking makes us dumber and slower, not faster and more connected. There's a brilliant article in November 2007 Atlantic Magazine on this very topic.

We're all rushing around and it's out serenity that pays the price. That feeling that you'll never catch up? That feeling that you're not doing enough, that you could be doing more and that you're lazy? That's the lie of multitasking. In fact, if you're successfully supporting yourself as a self-employed person, you're doing a heroic amount of work over a very short period of time.

So far, it's working for me. I'm getting the same amount of work done, but I'm not nearly as harried.

So as you head into the crazy workload of fall, give yourself some credit.

Then do the next ONE thing on your plate.

No comments: