Less Really Is More

Photo by  Uroš Jovičić  on  Unsplash

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. 

Life gives you plenty of time to do whatever you want to do if you stay in the present moment.
— Deepak Chopra

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.