If you split your mind’s focus on two or more things or places at once, does that mean you’re processing or present in none? Is multitasking the way to fail?
Trying to listen to a podcast while texting your friend… Checking emails while talking to your brother… Opening Chrome to find out why Picasso was so famous in the middle of reading a book… Even picking your nails while reading that same book… I did and do those. And I hate it, because it not only leads to me going back, over and over, to try to understand what I missed, but also leads to not being present in conversation, as well as not totally immersing myself in what I’m trying to learn.
Uni-tasking could be the best way to succeed. Focus on one task at a time. And not just for 5 minutes, but enough to immerse yourself in it.
Listening to music while you do something can be different. Matt Mullenweg listens to the same album on repeat when he works. And I forget who, but I’ve also heard of other writers who listen to the same track while writing. Music activates creativity (for some). For others it’s a distraction, just like multi-tasking.
And what if you limit yourself to using one sense at a time? I’ve been trying to put on my sleep eye mask when I talk on the phone, just to focus on the conversation and nothing else. If you get into a flotation tank, floating in darkness and silence in salt water, you can’t hear anything with your ear plugs in, it’s pitch black, it doesn’t smell like anything, there’s no taste (if you don’t accidentally get any salt water in your mouth), so the only sense that’s activated is touch.
It focuses your mind on one thing. And it’s an intense focus –one that when you’re done, you felt totally connected to.
It’s not practical to reenact that in everyday life, but maybe the fewer directions your senses, and therefore your mind, is pulled the more you take from what you’re presently doing.
Next thing to experiment with is eating with the eye mask on. And maybe with ear plugs and nose plugs in and a pair of oven mitts on. Just using the sense of taste and not looking, listening to, smelling or touching anything else. That’s ultimate uni-tasking.