Moving Towards Balance (and away from juggling)

I remember the moment I realized that I was now a multi-tasker.  I was in my office, sitting at the desk.  I had scheduled this time to make an important phone call that would take a while to wrap up.  While on hold, I decided to finish my notes
from an earlier meeting.   As I was writing these notes and waiting on hold, a co-worker came into my office asking
to consult about a case.  “Sure, come on in.  I am just finishing up these notes while I am on hold.  What’s up?”  In the amount of time it would take to complete one task I had “completed” all three tasks.   On paper, I could check off everything on my to-do list, I was done.

In reality, it looked something like this: Throughout the course of this consult with the co-worker, I had to ask her to repeat herself, because I was writing and hadn’t comprehended everything she was saying.  I eventually had to cut her off because my
phone call went through. By the time I had the attention of the person on the phone, I was too unfocused to articulate what it was I needed.  The next week I was preparing for a follow up meeting, took out the notes I had completed while multitasking and couldn’t make heads or tails of them.   I didn’t fully attend to any of these tasks AND I actually spend more time going back and cleaning-up the multi-tasking messes.  That first moment of multi-tasking could have also been the moment I fully understood that multi-tasking really wasn’t the great time-saver-thingy that everyone was making  so much hype about….only
my brain was too overwhelmed to notice.

Multi-tasking is about getting more done with less, quantity over quality, productivity over attention
to people and tasks.  While we may take less time to complete things, we are actually being less efficient and tend to
make more mistakes. The multi-tasking brain is flooded with data.  OUr brain is fragmented as we demand that it go back-and-forth, processing various types of data at rapid speeds and expected to generated multiple solutions at one time. When we function at this level for periods of time, there is no space in our brains or in our minds to be thoughtful about our mission, to positively problem solve, or to approach people and tasks creatively.

Just breathe and go slowly.

When I find myself having to ask others to repeat themselves, having to  re-do a task or my brain feels like cottage cheese, I know that I am in the multi-tasker’s sludge through the mud.  These are my red-flags to slow down, breathe and engage in some balancing .

Approaching with clarity and intention is a way of balancing (instead of juggling) the demands that come our way.   When your red-flag is drowning, rescue your mind with the cure for multi-tasking…Do One Thing At A Time.  I know, if it were that easy we wouldn’t be talking about it, right?   Before we can Do One Thing At A Time, we must re-focus our mind by giving ourselves a PAT on the back:

1.   Prioitize: address what matters most and let the rest fall away

2.   Attend to one task or person at a time:  give that person or task your full attention in that moment and complete that task;  then move on to the next.

3.   Transperancy:  Be clear and  honest with yourself and others about your availability and time requirements

If I had slowed down and given mysef a PAT on the back, the earlier scenario could have had the opportunity for greatness:

While awaiting the important phone call I had scheduled, I spent the on-hold time preparing by organizing my thoughts and questions.  During this time, a co-coworker came by the office and asked about consulting on a case.  I replied that I would be happy to consult, that I was on hold for an important phone call and we negotiated a time that worked for both us.  After positively concluding the phone call, I turned my attention to writing comprehensive notes outlining an earlier meeting (a quick review of which would prepare me for the follow up meeting).  At this point, I would have been able to genuinely affirm that I was done for the day.

Just breathe and go slowly.

Finding Your Balance: How can you move from juggling the demands of living a multi-tasking life to attending to tasks and people in a balanced manner?    PAT yourself on the back, take a deep breath and begin again,  allowing change to happen slowly and over time, one task at a time.   Your challenge is to start small, start slow and start with you.

Posted: Monday, February 13th, 2012 @ 4:19 pm
Categories: Balance.
Subscribe to the comments feed if you like. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “Moving Towards Balance (and away from juggling)”

  1. Donna Says:

    Hi!! Good luck in your new endeavors!! I hope that I am your first subscriber! I just realized that it is just up today! Really new!

  2. Chica Poff Says:

    Susan, Bravo to you. You are wise beyond your years.

  3. David Diana Says:

    Great post Susan. I find that every day I need to calm down a bit and stop my mind and body from racing. It can be overwhelming! What I find equally challenging is time and space to calm things down so if you have additional tips on that it would be much appreciated! For example, I’d love to find time for meditation but I often make excuses for why I don’t have time today to do that.

  4. Barbara Says:

    Love it! Looking forward to reading more posts!

Leave a Reply