The other day, I spent seven minutes brushing my teeth.
It took me double the amount of time a person should take because I was semi-scrolling through my insta feed with my left hand whilst semi-brushing with the right.
Multi-tasking: the act of doing two things half-assedly, but neither one being done very well.
Brushing my teeth is a trivial example, but I recently became conscious of how this ineffective multi-tasking behaviour has permeated other aspects of my life, in which performance does matter.
For example, when I'm working on my laptop, I have numerous unrelated tabs open, from the latest Celine Dion for Dior campaign (#TODIEFOR btw), a Townske post on best cafes in Auckland and, ironically, a Ted Talk on practicing mindfulness. While my inbox is loading, I'd check on how many likes my latest IG post got. While I'm cooking my eggs, I'd quickly reply to a text and diligently find the perfect GIF fitting to the context, until I notice the eggs are burning.
I jump from one app to another listicle, to passively looking at photos and videos, ultimately making detours from completing the task at hand, that is, if I don't forget what I was supposed to be doing in the first place.
I'm no brain expert here, but I could start to perceive how my own thought process has changed due to this constant state of over-stimulation and information overload.
Just yesterday, I started a new book and it embarrassingly took an active effort to sit still and concentrate fully on the story. Having a phone next to me, even with it facing down and on silent mode, I could feel a part of my attention was still tied to the expectation of receiving a notification. After physically moving the phone out of my sight and actively blocking random thoughts from distracting me from the pages, only then was I able to get into the story.
This really bothered me. So, I asked myself, when else do I multi-task and how can I minimize this half-hearted approach to completing tasks? I could extrapolate this to life in general. I do not want to live life half-heartedly!
How can I be more mindful?
I'll start with the following small and specific actions, and hopefully it will build momentum to apply to larger areas:
- I will stop checking my phone first thing when I open my eyes. I end up checking my emails and scrolling through social media, starting my day on an anxious/annoyed attitude. Not healthy. Instead, I'll keep it on airplane mode until I'm done brushing my teeth (heya, full circle) and washing my face.
- I will stop automatically opening social media tabs when I work on my laptop. Make a list of what I'm supposed to, and check off as I go.
- I will take all my food pics before eating, and put the phone away in my bag so I can actually absorb what the other person is saying. The world won't end if they don't see your avo toast.
- I will practice easy meditation techniques during down time. A good exercise from Eckhart Tolle: try to predict what your next thought will be. (do it...) It's impossible! You have to actively stop your constant stream of thoughts to be fully in the moment.
- I will turn off my phone and read before sleeping. I think it's also just as important to end your day with positive thoughts, like preparing a clean slate for the next day.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on being more mindful. I'm sure some of you can relate to feeling distracted, and would love to hear about your own stories and tips!