Tag Archives: family time

What Type of Task Master are You?

One morning I went to the gym for a swim before starting my work day.  When I got back to the locker room, I realized the clock by the pool was slow.  I didn’t have nearly as much time as I needed to get ready.  Most of my work is done over the phone, so it really doesn’t matter how I look, however, on that day I was going into a company and wanted to look presentable.  I wasn’t sure how that would happen given my limited time.  Out of desperation, I ended up drying my hair while putting on mascara.  Not a pretty picture!  I did get to my meeting on time and in one piece, but with quite a struggle.  I’m lucky I didn’t poke my eye out!

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How often are you multi-tasking instead of mono-tasking, whether by choice or out of habit?  We live in a culture where it’s become the norm to do more than one thing at a time.   We may pride ourselves on our multi-tasking ability, believing that it helps us get more done. When we are honest with ourselves, however, we recognize what studies are beginning to show:  multi-tasking is not productive. It’s really only possible to place your attention on one thing at a time. If you don’t believe this, here’s an experiment: Think about the about the taste of a fresh strawberry (that fresh, luscious, burst of sweetness) at the exact same time as you subtract 37 from 95.  Really concentrate. You can switch back and forth really quickly, but you can’t actually think about both things simultaneously.  When we multi-task, our attention is splintered, flitting back and forth between the multiple things we are attempting to accomplish. If, like me, you attempt to follow Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements, including the agreement to “do your best” we would we well served to minimize multi-tasking. When we have more than one thing we are working on, our efforts will rarely be more than second best.

Mono-tasking, on the other hand, has many benefits.  When we give our full attention to something, we usually do it efficiently and well.  It is a form of mindfulness.  We feel better about ourselves, the process we are engaged in, as well as the end product.  As I typed the first word of this paragraph, I noticed I’d made a Freudian slip typo.  I’d written “Mom-tasking”.  It made me recall all the multi-tasking I’d done as a work-from-home mother.  Many afternoons I would be doing laundry, making dinner, listening to a personal or business development recording, and helping a son with his homework, all at the same time.  When my husband or the other son would come into the room to ask me something or share about his day, I hardly gave my full attention.  When we give our full attention to someone and listen with our whole being, it feels like a gift.  Those are moments to treasure in our relationships.

What do you want to give your full attention to?

How do you feel when you mono/multi-task?

Where could you simplify your life by narrowing your focus?

Reclaim Your Time

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September is a month when everything gears back up after the summer. Children don backpacks and return to school and grownups return to work, leaving the lazy days of vacation or long weekends behind.  Sports teams, clubs, committees, and professional organizations that may have suspended their meetings and practices over the summer are back in full swing.   Many people find the cooler temperatures invigorating and welcome the quicker pace.  But others feel like digging in their heels and stubbornly shouting “Whoa!” when they see how much is now on their plates.   If this latter description fits you even slightly, read on for some suggestions for reclaiming control over your time.

LOOK AT HOW YOU ARE SPENDING YOUR TIME—Here’s an eye-opening exercise I’ve used with many of my clients.  Make two pie charts (circles that you will divide into sections) next to each other and label one “Actual Day” and the other “Ideal Day.”   Divide and label the first circle into sections that represent how you allocate a typical day, (i.e. sleep, grooming, exercise, work, running errands, preparing and eating meals, TV/reading.)   Are you surprised by where your time goes?  Now segment the second circle according to how you’d prefer to spend your time.

REEXAMINE YOUR PRIORITIES—What do you most want to devote your time and energy to at this point in your life?  Make a list and narrow down to the three to five things that are most important to you.  These are your top priorities.  Refer back to your “Actual Day” pie chart, to see how much of your time is engaged in activities that are important to you.   What steps could you take to make your days more reflective of your true priorities?

MAKE CHOICES BASED ON YOUR PRIORITIES
1. Set and stick to limits.  My limit is two meetings a week and, when my boys were in school, it was one sport per child per season.
2. Divide and conquer.  Have your spouse or a friend fill you in on what happened in a meeting.
3. Say no.  If it doesn’t fall into your top priorities, isn’t something you want to do, or if it would push you over the edge into overwhelm, say no to it.
4. Schedule what’s important. Treat family dinners or exercise sessions the same way you would a business meeting—enter them in your calendar and work around them.
5. Make adjustments as needed to make your life work for you.

We are each given 24 hours each day; choose wisely and most the most of every moment!