DO:one thing at a time.
I recently read, My Life as an Experiment, by A.J. Jacobs. Each chapter explores a new lifestyle experiment, and there was one in particular – “The Unitasker” – which made a significant impact on my thinking. In this chapter, Jacobs makes a commitment to do only one thing at a time. They say that people who unitask, as opposed to multitask, actually get more done. In addition, they are more aware of the task they are doing – rather than performing it as a rote task with disengaged cognition.
Jacobs has to work hard at “unitasking.” It involves eating dinner with no TV on in the background, talking on the phone with his eyes closed, writing his book without intermittently surfing the internet, and tough mental work to stay concentrated while seeing a task through to its end.
To assist in his concentration, Jacobs tries out meditation and implements a method self-deemed as, “The Bill Murray Method.” It’s simple: he cognitively says to himself what he is doing as he does it. For example, I’m walking down the street, smelling the leftover rain, and looking at the storm-cleared sky. It sounds ridiculous, but there is a point. It’s active participation in whatever you’re doing.
Active participation allows you to fully take in what’s going on and appreciate things as they happen. It’s a hard thing to achieve if you are doing 10 million things at once, but today try not to. Do one thing at a time. Talk to your friend on the phone and listen. Don’t play a game or try to get your bills done while she’s talking. You don’t have to implement “The Bill Murray Method” and speak to yourself, but take note of what’s going on. It will help you to fully experience life, soak up things as they happen, and, in the end, actually get more things done.