Multi-Tasking: the silent culprit
Last night to wind down after an awesome weekend, I was catching up on DVR’d SuperSoulSunday on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network with Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post (that’s alotta links!). I love to see fellow Greek Americans making waves in the areas of health, wellness, success, impact, enlightenment, meditation, and more. Arianna is an inspiration to me, a self-made woman, mother, influencer, role model, meditator, self-proclaimed lover of naps!
I like to watch shows like SuperSoulSunday because so much of it is inspiring and motivational, some of it resonates and some of it doesn’t. When I tune in to the tube, I try to listen to my body’s natural and physical reactions to what’s being shown and said… cue chills down my spine, a tear starting to well, me subconsciously nodding in agreement to something that I’ve heard.
That is precisely what happened when I heard Arianna share with Oprah an anecdote about her mother and multi-tasking. Here is the super short version of the story:
One day while Arianna was opening mail and juggling a conversation with her two daughters her mother stood, watching the scene with disapproval and abruptly interjected with “I. Appall. Multi-tasking.” It stopped Arianna in her tracks. By opening the mail, rushing around, etc., she was not being truly present with her daughters and therefore missing out on the moments in front of her, the precious time with her daughters and being able to give them the most important gift of all… her attention. That inspired Arianna to make a huge shift in the way that she had been living her life, switching from task to task, and never truly bring present. The lesson: all important things in live deserve your undivided attanetion. My own YiaYia (that’s Greek for grandmother) would totally have agreed!
This was profound for me because I sometimes feel like multi-tasking is the goal, in order to get everything in my life done. I wrongfully prioritize my ability to be “productive” by multi-tasking when in fact I am surely not giving each task the undue attention is truly warrants. If the goal is to be truly present in each moment, especially those moments with myself or the people I love, a shift needs to occurs in giving them my tried and true undivided attention. Naturally some things would fall to the wayside but wouldn’t I only be left with the truly most important things of all? Food for thought!
After all, studies show that there is no such thing as multi-tasking only “task switching” – one of the most stressful things one can do to their body. Read on about the effects of mutli-tasking on productivity and other risks in an article by the American Psychological Association or at Psychology Today in this article “The true Cost of Multi-tasking.” This will surely change your mind and pride about how we very the phenomenon of multi-tasking. We all know that stress is not great for our mind, body and soul, however this seems like such an inconspicuous culprit to stress that we did not know was there. Stress breads dis-ease in the body which then leads to a host of other ailments. Bottom line, multi-tasking takes us away from the present moments, adds stress to our lives, and upsets our loved ones who want us to be present with them. Isn’t that the greatest gift of all? That IS why they call it ‘the present.’
This totally inspired me, so I made a conscious effort to institute the simple shift of removing my phone from the dinner table at home or at a restaurant. I do not want to be THAT person (my one and only acceptation is taking a quick snapshot of my meal and posting to Instagram). Removing my phone from the dinner table will allow me to be truly present with myself and my company. I strive to be a more present listener, conversationalist and retainer of info (multi-tasking is detrimental on your ability to retain the details!). I also believe in being present with your food, feeling gratitude and taking in all of those delicious flavors and textures in your meal (this is called mindful eating and has been shown to improve digestion and aid in natural weight loss).
Another quick action you can take today, right now, is to commit to 5 minutes of silence a day. You can do this in bed in the morning or at night, at your desk, in the restroom, on the airplane, in the car…you catch my drift. Just 5 mins to consciously sit in silence, focus on your breath, breathe into any stress in the shoulders, neck or back. This simple task may feel challenging at first but can be practiced over time and can actually lead to better health, greater productivity, a reduction in stress, more presence, happier thoughts, better sleep and greater creativity.
What did you take away from this post? What is one action you can commit to taking in order to be more present today?