Day 273: Monotask

Why is it so freaking hard to do just one thing at a time?

When I first started off this blog, I was certain that I would be paying a lot of attention to monotasking–doing one thing at a time, and doing it as mindfully and deliberately as possible. What I have found over the past 273 days is that monotasking is the one thing that I probably forget to do most. In fact, I’ve only used the “monotasking” tag 11 times in nine months.

So today, once again, I was catching myself reading email on my phone while I was walking from one building to the next. And at lunch, while I ate my sandwich. And at a stoplight on the drive home. And so on.

Each time, it took a conscious effort on my part to break from the habit of doing two things at once. The phone is just a handy example. The truth is–I’m doing it all the time, and each time I do it, I am distracting myself from one task to attend to another.

Even now. I have another pot of soup on the stove, and while that is cooking, here I am doing something else.

Now, maybe standing over a pot of chicken soup seems like a dumb way to spend my time–but I think that’s the point. I keep thinking about time as something I am spending or wasting. Instead, I’d rather focus on time as something I am in the process of experiencing. Insert Bergson reading here, if you want more philosophy….

So I’m going back downstairs now, and I’m going to hang out in the kitchen. Maybe I will start some biscuits. Maybe I will set the table. But whatever I do, I want to be present for the task of preparing a meal, not distracted by the 108 other claims to my attention that will pull me out of the moment.

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7 Responses to Day 273: Monotask

  1. revdarkwater says:

    Julia Cameron (in The Artist’s Way suggests that cooking can be good “right brain” time to let one’s creative work stew as well. So maybe you could monotask and accomplish something else at the same time (grin).

    • Mark says:

      Not a bad image. I once told a friend that I thought frying chicken was an amazingly contemplative act. I’m not sure I convinced her, but I am absolutely a convert!

  2. In the Stillness of Willow Hill says:

    It certainly is difficult to mono task in this high speed society……….but I believe, as you do, that it is something we all need to practice. Wouldn’t the world be a kinder gentler place if we all knew how to listen….really listen to someone…..because we have learned to quiet the voices in our heads? I love your honest look at the frustrations that come with beginning new habits.

  3. Pingback: Day 273: Monotask (Reblog from | Simplicity 222

  4. Julie Buhite says:

    This is great! You’ve been reblogged. 🙂

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