Last year it started to feel like I was going through the motions in my daily life. With clients I could easily drop in and be present but everywhere else it felt like time was slipping away in a blur of tasks and routines. Tried to multi-task wherever I could. When walking Leo I would also listen to podcasts, during breakfast I’d check email, and post on social media. Truth was that on those morning walks I was constantly rewinding the podcast to catch what I’d just missed or tripping over uneven sidewalks and tree roots because I wasn’t looking where I was going. Annoying at best, risking bodily harm at worst. Breakfast happened but I didn't taste much.
One of the practices I highlight with clients is to create rituals around things that feel routine. Turning the rote into something special and memorable only requires attention and intention. I decided to apply that practice more broadly by experimenting with only doing one thing a time. So began my month of mono-tasking. It seemed pretty straightforward though I was skeptical that I would get much done. What I’ve discovered has been nothing short of life-changing. Not hyperbole.
What does it look like to only do one thing at a time? When I drink my coffee that is all I am doing. Sitting at my breakfast table, looking out the window, listening to the birds, watching the sky. When I read I only read what is in front of me. No frenetic moving back and forth between the 50 open browser tabs. Now when I eat there are no distractions of books, phones or television. When I walk, I walk. No podcasts playing or phone conversations. It is just me, the dog and the natural world.
What was initially supposed to be an exercise has heightened everything. Explained to a friend over tea that it feels a bit like I am high while fully sober. Everything seems sharper. I am present. Fully present. Where before when I would grab a snack I chose what my mind wanted and then would eat it while doing something else so didn't notice much beyond the thinking. Now I find myself reaching for crudités over chips almost every time. Because when I'm not distracted by other things I can tell what my body actually wants and needs.
There have been surprising unexpected benefits like weight loss, getting better sleep and having more free time. Initially thought I would have less time but the opposite has been true. I get way more done because I am focused, less distracted. Also I am reading books again – from start to finish. It's magic. I thought my brain was broken as I had been struggling to drop into one and stay there.
If you are curious you can start with one thing or if you are feeling saucy do what I did and go all in. Either way I think you'll find it well worth your time. Would love to hear what you discover so report back in the comments or send me a note.