Multitasking is a myth. Duh. This we now know for a real, true fact, thanks to an onslaught of studies that inspired a barrage of media. Nonetheless, you can’t step outside of your mudroom without running into people driving while texting (and applying makeup), jogging while phoning (and walking the dog), and boarding the bus while sexting (while listening to Prince).
It’s not just youth. As local columnist Gail Rosenblum recently confessed, “We can bemoan our kids’ insistence on doing homework while wearing earbuds, watching TV, and Snapchatting. But we’re worse.” Rare is the person in this great nation who has not been sucked into this multitasking milieu.
So please remind yourself: It’s a myth. Our brains and attention habits may be gradually changing, but humans still can really only focus on one thing at time.
- One. Thing. At. A. Time.
MIT neuropsychology professor Earl K. Miller has done massive studies, and concludes, “Multi-tasking, it turns out, is actually not multi-tasking at all. It is doing many similar things, switching back and forth between them.”
Maybe we should redub it hypertasking?
We need to fight back, people. We need to resist our own un-basic instincts that have us believing we’re most productive and impressive when we may really be just frazzled, stressed, and rude. Yes, rude. When did it become okay to duck in and out of conversations because you can’t stop simultaneously playing with your digitalia?
We need a break. We need to do one life-affirming thing at a time, one worthwhile chore at a time, one relaxing pastime at a time. Maybe these things—if pursued mindfully—will help us refocus our brains and realize that the beauty of life still rests in the little things. In the 3D moment. And in rest itself.
So please read these Five Ways to Give Yourself a Break! And try digesting it in one bite, start to finish. If you can’t, worry not. I still love you. Maybe.
- 1. Meditate
Most anyone who’s been exposed to meditation discovers its value and pledges to make it part of their daily routine. And that promise often lasts about as long as the New Year’s diet. After all, who has time? Who has that 20-40 minutes every day to sit and focus on…nothing? We all do. We all have exactly 1,440 minutes per day. What you do with them is entirely your choice. And may determine your destiny.
- 2. Fish
Fish? Really? Sure—if you can. On my lake, fisherpeople have become, for me, a symbol for patience, persistence, and silence. If fishing is inconvenient for you, find some equally passive pastime, like doodling, searching for four-leaf clovers, or finding animal shapes in the clouds.
- 3. Play music
The Mozart effect has confirmed the genius of making music a part of life. Simple attentive listening can increase brain function. But try playing, even if you ain’t Paul McCartney. Pound on that dusty keyboard or pull out that old guitar. You’ll notice a form of focus that feels great. Avoid using the metronome app on your phone.
- 4. Rest, Yes, Rest
We’re sleep-deprived to the point of health risks—including hypertension, diabetes, and dangerous driving. So sleep. And take naps. Get a hammock. Use the hammock. Put your head down on soft grass, your partner’s belly, and your chaise lounge. Fight with your family over who gets the recliner. Then get another one.
- 5. Take a break
This site preaches the gospel of Sabbatical. And if you ever get the chance to take, say, three months to sail away to a dream destination, please, please don’t spend that precious experience on the phone, the computer, or hidden away in some media fantasy. Chat up every neighbor; study every sandcastle; taste every vino locale.
Cool. Thanks. You made it. You can go back to multitasking now.
And by the way, good luck with that.