In the spirit of experimentation and moving outside of my comfort zone, I decided to take on the challenge of “single-tasking” for a week. I discovered that breaking my multi-tasking habit was a lot more challenging than I originally anticipated. Single-tasking required an extremely high level of self- and other-awareness, along with the ability to be fully present to whatever I was doing at any moment in time. It also required taking the skill of listening to the next level. Single-tasking meant that when I was reading, I was just reading; when I was talking on the phone, I was just on the phone and wasn’t scanning my email, loading the dishwasher, making coffee, reading reports or writing; when I was listening to music, I was just listening to music; when I was with someone, I was fully present to what he/she was saying and not going over a mental “to-do list.” Single-tasking also meant that I was aware when I wasn’t fully present in the moment and the potential impact of my distraction on others; it also meant consciously refocusing my complete attention to whatever was happening in the moment.
What I discovered from my single-tasking experiment was amazing. Time seemed to slow down and my senses intensified. I noticed things that I was too distracted to notice before: the beauty of being fully present to whatever was occurring in a particular moment; the sounds and patterns of various types of music; the uniqueness and beauty of the person I was speaking to, whether in person or on the phone; the secrets that are revealed in the urban landscape; the joy that is present in doing seemingly insignificant household tasks; the speed that I was able to generate in completing my actual “to-do” list, and so much more. What about you? Are you willing to take on the challenge and gifts of single tasking and enjoying the experience of being fully present?