Put your hand up if you’re a multi-tasker and your mind races with all the things you've just gotta get done. Me too! I currently have 13 tabs open on my Internet browser. And I often eat breakfast with one hand at the same time as checking Facebook on my phone while reading my Twitter feed on my iPad. I was even one of those people - back in the day when I was a smoker - that would have 2 cigarettes on the go because I'd forgotten I'd lit the first one. I think we all know that multi-tasking doesn't work. It’s completely overwhelming, leading to feelings of stress and anxiety.
I've worked with many clients who are overwhelmed, stressed and are trying to do too much. These are my three best strategies that have helped them become more focused and give multi-tasking the flick.
- For the action oriented types - write a VERY SHORT priority list every day.
And I mean really really short - one, two or three things at the most. Long to-do lists can be overbearing and are easily ignored resulting in even less productivity than not having a list at all. The very short priority list might come from your long to-do list but the short list helps you commit. Just focus on getting the short list done. That way when you go to sleep at night you can feel happy that you achieved something that day rather than becoming undone by an unwieldy (and frankly unachievable) list of jobs.
I put this into practice recently. I have been working at a part-time job while I get my health coaching business off the ground. Often I would feel cranky and frustrated while at this job because I felt like I was getting nothing done for my business. So on the days I'm at my part time job I write myself a very short priority list. In fact, it has only one item - work at the part-time job. That's it! Straight away I've freed myself from all that anxiety because I only have one thing to do.
- For the busy executive types - sit in meditation every day.
Is that giggling I hear (or are you outright howling with laughter?) If you think you don't have time, then ponder this Zen proverb - "You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day. Unless you are too busy. Then you should sit for an hour."
I have just recently gotten back on the meditation bandwagon. I've never felt like I was "good" at it but I am finally starting to realise that being good at it isn't actually the point. Meditation will help you to focus, reduce feelings of worry and stress and will increase creativity and acceptance of yourself and others. When your mind is focused and not filled with worries it is easier to get things done. I have been following the program at Headspace which gives you great tips to get started and also explains how meditation works. You can try it for free for 10 days. Why not challenge yourself and see what difference it makes?
- For the child in all of us - try colouring in.
You've probably seen them everywhere – colouring-in books for adults. I couldn't help myself… I bought one. And I love it. Besides having to choose colours and making sure you don't go outside the lines there is not much else you can do while colouring in. You can't browse the web, or pay bills or even talk much. You just go into your own little world and chill out. I highly recommend it!
You may have noticed that all of these strategies encourage mindfulness. Concentrating on one thing at a time will increase your productivity, reduce levels of stress and anxiety and increase your overall happiness. If you could use a break from the crazy busy lifestyle we all seem to lead, then try one or all of these three strategies (but definitely not all at once!)
DID YOU ENJOY THESE TIPS? TELL US ABOUT IT IN THE COMMENTS.