But think about your day. How many times do you switch from one activity to the other? Sometimes they are related, often times, they are not. Our brain is a high voltage engine, so even if it might not be possible to multitask, it can easily focus on different tasks in a row.
The brain needs time to adjust in between topics. Else, it always thinks about the previous task or even worse, is already one step ahead at the next point of the agenda. The result is that we never place our full attention to the present moment and therefore resting with a feeling of discontent or “always being on the run”. Science has proven that multitasking has the same impact to the brain as staying up all night long.
What can we do about it?
Structure your day: structuring the day starts by making a plan for the week. Looking at your map for the week you can see if there are any overlaps between topics, which can be combined in order to give the brain the possibility to fully concentrate on it. Switch the urgent tasks, which need your full concentration to the time of the day, where you are most productive (for most of us this is the morning).
Take breaks: with breaks I mean real breaks. Not just run for a quick coffee or even worse scroll through social media. Plan in breaks, where you leave the house/the office and have a walk in nature to get some fresh air. Don´t add your workout at the end of the day but plan it as a break instead. After some running and a shower, the new ideas will sputter.
Rest in quietude. Call it meditation or deliberate breathing, whatever it is, which works for you. Plan some time in between tasks to open the window and sit quiet for a couple of minutes to calm your body and mind and return to your center. This may need some practice, but once the brain is trained to rest in silence for a moment, it will highly appreciate this powerful pause.
Skip things. In German you would call it “Mut zur Lücke” (courage for the gap). It means that you sometimes have to decide to drop things. I am self-employed, which means I work from home ALL THE TIME. Previously, I did take care of our five person household, which I still do, but not to the same extent. If I want to fulfill my writing schedule, I cannot run down to the washing machine every hour (except, if I take it as a creative break – see point 2). I might also not be able to join coffee mornings or bake sales, which I previously have attended regularly. Check your meeting schedule: do you really need to attend all of them, or can you skip a few? Do you need to be involved in all projects or is it better to concentrate on a few? It is up to you.
I think I already written about it, but for me the game changer was starting a regular Yoga practice, especially the morning routine, and also to start a regular meditation practice.
Whenever I feel overwhelmed by the different topics on my list or dizzy because I have to write an article right after I have joined a two hour Zoom Call, I won´t do it immediately. The first thing I do, is take a step back and listen to my gut feeling. Sometimes I go to my mat for 15 minutes or have a short walk outside or I just open the window, sit down and do a short meditation. Afterwards I feel so renewed, that the workflow is way easier than it would have been without a break.
You are very fortunate to be able to plan your day independently, you might say. It´s all a matter of perspective, is my answer. Our first and foremost responsibility is to ourselves. Only, if we are able to balance our forces, we can fully engage with our families, employers and workload. Present moment awareness is not only a fashion word. Science has shown that the brain works more efficient if we fully concentrate on one thing, before we move to the next. And the more we are concentrating, the better we are able to cope with it. We come up with new ideas and find the work no trouble.
Fulfillment is not about achieving a certain goal or having a previously identified sum on your bank account. Fulfillment comes when you realize that the sum of your actions leads to success. That you are not torn between tasks, but instead that you are the owner of your daily activities. It is a feeling of satisfaction, that your abilities and talents are being fully usedand you are the ruler of your life and not being ruled by an external force.
Doing less can be one of the methods to gain more. Structure your day, tame your mind and take responsibility for your own fulfillment.
“The man who chases two rabbits, catches neither.”