Monday, January 9, 2012

Just Focus

Society seems to be gearing us all to be multi-taskers and most of us have embraced multi-tasking as a way of life without giving it too much thought.  It's likely that at this very moment you are reading this blog post you are probably doing at least one other thing; more likely two or three (making dinner, helping the kids with homework, scanning email, etc).  While on the one hand it seems like being able to multi-task shows behavioral flexibility, on the other it tends to show an inability to really be in the moment, focus and be fully conscious/present in the experience.  We have all become very good at doing a lot of things at the same time, yet is it making our lives better?  Are we using it to our advantage or are we using it as an avoidance strategy to distance ourselves from our feelings/experiences?

While behavioral flexibility and the ability to adapt to rapid change is great, becoming disassociated / disconnected is not as it removes us from being fully conscious and experiencing life.  Too much multi-tasking tends to shift our consciousness over to autopilot.  Autopilot tunes out our emotional connection to what we are doing and puts us in that gray area where we are unable to feel passionate or excited and instead just feel 'blah'.  The more multi-tasking we do, the less time we have to connect to what we are doing, the less we aware we become.  Knowing emotion drives behavior, is it any wonder that as people become more disassociated and removed from their emotions and daily experiences, they become more apathetic, feel overwhelmed, exhausted and defeated.  

After a while, life begins to feel like a never ending list of tasks with not enough hours in the day to get everything done.  Multi-tasking by its very nature means everything is a "work-in-progress" simply because you are doing a little of everything all day long.  In other words there will always be a lot of unfinished/incomplete tasks at the end of the day.  Another consideration is when you multi-task some of the bigger tasks stay on the list for an extended period of time because you are only chipping away at it rather than giving it your full, undivided attention.  Seeing the same task on your to do list for days (or perhaps weeks/months) may give you the feeling like its never going to get done.

How often have you worked steadily all day long, only to find at the end of the day you have not crossed a single item off your list of tasks?  More importantly, how does it make you feel?  

If the continuous work-in-progress list motivates and excites you, by all means continue on multi-tasking to your heart's content; just ensure you are fully present and in the moment when you are with others. However, if multi-tasking feels like its sucking the life out of you and taking all the joy out of life, now would be an ideal time to realign your priorities and focus.  Add some structure so you are working smarter, in a way that gives you the ability to cross off tasks at the end of each day so you feel you are accomplishing what you set your mind to and feel good about getting things done.  

Ultimately, I believe living life in a way that will keep you feeling excited, motivated, inspired and happy is the way to go.  Each of us is unique so we each have to choose our own way to achieve the life we want and the way we want to live it.

As always, the choice is yours.