Multi-tasking and mindfulness -- Can they co-exist?

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I’m a “get it done” kind of person. I make lists and check items off as things get done. I’ve found this gives me a sense of accomplishment, no matter how small the task. It also motivates me to take on new tasks, which in turn require lists and checking them off. On top of that, my schedule is always full.

It’s a trait of a go-getter. And that of a multi-tasker, which I’ve been guilty of my entire life. I often eat at my desk or have three things going on the stove or am preparing for multiple work events. Occasionally it’s nice to do just one thing, but inevitably I’m tackling several things at once. My explanation? It’s the only way things “get done” within allotted timelines (self-imposed or otherwise).

I like completing things and dislike unfinished business. Sometimes I don’t have all the pieces to do the thing, yet I can’t wait to get it done and move on to the next thing.

My husband is an expert at doing one thing at a time. In fact, I don’t believe he’s capable of multi-tasking. When learning a song on his guitar, that’s all he’s doing – he can’t even hear me if I’m talking to him. While vacuuming the floor, that’s what he’s doing. When he’s chopping ingredients, he will finish that before putting a pot on the stove. I’m not sure how much of this is a “man” thing, but I find that women, especially moms, feel the need to multi-task.

I fear that if I stop multi-tasking, my brain will get used to doing only one thing and I’ll find myself playing catch up for days afterwards. Or worse, I might let important things slide.

But while I’m talented at multi-tasking, I realize it’s not something to be proud of.

Over the years, I’ve become mindful of mindfulness. As my mother, who I regard as wise (though she can be otherwise) says, “Pick one or two things and don’t overload yourself – busy-ness is a choice”. So I try to be mindful - to focus on one thing at a time, enjoying every moment.

I’m trying to figure out a way to empty my schedule and shorten my lists. Hmmmm, maybe I should stop trying and just go with it. One less thing to multi-task on!

I’m still a make-a-list, get-it-done sort of person, but I’m now supremely mindful that I’m also a work-in-progress on the wise concept of mindfulness. And I encourage go-getters like me to practice it!

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