The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time –part two

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There is no point in arguing that to complete one thing at a time is a less efficient use of time. We all are capable of great things and we can drink tea and read the Sunday papers or discuss a merger whilst making notes and thinking about the effect on your life.

The human brain, heart and gut are powerful centres of complexity that we as humans are only beginning to understand.

Steps to changing self and others

Quite simply try to carry out one task or activity from beginning to end. Resist distractions, interruptions and hold your attention on the point of focus. If a long time span is required have mindful breaks and keep bringing yourself back to the task in hand.

• Set out the task and announce that you do not want to be disturbed for a certain length of time
• Break the task down into small, manageable steps and hold your focus
• Create shorter face to face meetings to hold attention – 45 minutes with 5 minutes reflective space for note writing
• Start all meetings at a precise time, end at a precise time, and insist that all digital devices be turned off throughout the meeting
• Take short breaks every 90 minutes- walk outside, eat and drink slowly and breathe
• Make official quiet spaces for employees to go to
• Invite staff to turn off their email at certain times. If it’s urgent, you can call them —
• Stop buying into the need for instant replies
• Encourage children to have quiet times during the day but especially at night
• Spend meal times savouring the food let the chatter resume after eating
• Rejecting the role of a victim and instead view events through a more hopeful filter
• Time is infinite but we have an expiry date- stop to savour the now

“ Mindfulness is the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose,
in the present moment, and non judgmentally to the unfolding of experience
moment by moment as if your life depended on it” Jon Kabat- Zinn

Mindfulness for all

It’s up to individuals to set their own boundaries and acquire skills which will help them cope with this new world. Time is an infinite resource, it is not in short supply, but energy is different. If we want to make the best of the life we have, then managing your energy is vital. It has four wellsprings–the body, emotions, mind, and spirit–and in each, it can be systematically expanded and renewed through Mindfulness.
YOU will benefit in many ways

Increasing resilience, adaptability and flexibility
Improved effectiveness and productivity, and reduced sick days
Rising motivation and well-being in a more positive working environment
Happier, calmer kids who enjoy moment to moment living

—————————————————————— the list goes on and on!

The Magic of Doing One Thing at a TIme


The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time

Mindful awareness
This is the title of an article by Tony Schwartz in the Harvard Business Review March 2014
“Why is it that between 25% and 50% of people report feeling overwhelmed or burned out at work? It’s not just the number of hours we’re working, but also the fact that we spend too many continuous hours juggling too many things at the same time. “
His writing was inspired by “Slow Down, Brave Multi-tasker, and Don’t Read This in Traffic” By Steve Lohr another article that appeared in the New York Times, March 25, 2007
Forgive me for stealing the phrase “The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time” as it has become one of the phrases that I use whilst teaching Mindfulness and Contemplative Practices. It has become my own personal mantra to remind me to slow down.
It has been apparent to me for some time that the biggest piece of dis-information of the modern world is that we have to multi-task to get through the day, especially if you are a woman. If you still believe that you can juggle phone calls, cook supper, attend to a major project’s e-mails, instant messages and help with homework, so that you achieve more in this time-starved world? Read on——-
Recent research reports, provide evidence of the limits of multitasking. The findings, according to neuroscientists, psychologists and management professors, suggest that many people would be wise to curb their multitasking behaviour when working in an office, studying or driving a car whilst talking on their mobile. In short, the answer appears to lie in managing the technology, instead of merely yielding to its incessant temptations
“Multitasking is going to slow you down, increasing the chances of mistakes,” said David E. Meyer, a cognitive scientist and director of the Brain, Cognition and Action Laboratory at the University of Michigan. “Disruptions and interruptions are a bad deal from the standpoint of our ability to process information.”
As Jon Kabat-Zinn states the human brain, with its hundred billion neurons and hundreds of trillions of synaptic connections, is the most powerful computer in the Universe, but it does have its limitations. One is an inability to concentrate on two things at once,” said René Marois, a neuroscientist and director of the Human Information Processing Laboratory at Vanderbilt University.
Mr. Marois and three other Vanderbilt researchers reported in an article in December 2006 in the journal Neuron that they used magnetic resonance imaging to pinpoint the bottleneck in the brain and to measure how much efficiency is lost when trying to handle two tasks at once. Study participants were given two tasks and were asked to respond to sounds and images. The first was to press the correct key on a computer keyboard after hearing one of eight sounds. The other task was to speak the correct vowel after seeing one of eight images.
The researchers said that they did not see a delay if the participants were given the tasks one at a time. But the researchers found that response to the second task was delayed by up to a second when the study participants were given the two tasks at about the same time.
Linda Stone studying “Continual partial attention” is probably somewhere closer to the reality. Research continues but the “multi-tasking urban myth” seems to have been shot out of the water.
So if in fact, if we accept that the fast pace of the technology age means that we no longer have natural stopping points or ways of setting boundaries in our jobs, then I invite you to start setting your own personal boundaries where ever you may be. As we take our work with us everywhere on tablets and mobile phones you are the only person who can take control.
Why indeed should you stop the pressurised patterns of everyday living in automatic pilot?
• The biggest loss is to human productivity. I know this from my own experience. I feel less pressurised, more in focus and generally calmer when I work from beginning to end of a task with no interruptions, for a designated period of time.
• The best way for an organization to fuel higher productivity and more innovative thinking is to strongly encourage finite periods of absorbed focus, as well as shorter periods of real renewal.
• Personal stress related illness and mental health problems are strongly associated in part, to the consequence of splitting your attention, so that you’re partially engaged in multiple activities but rarely fully engaged in any one. In part, it’s because when you switch away from a primary task to do something else, you’re increasing the time it takes to finish that task by an average of 25 per cent.
• Multitasking is going to slow you down, increasing the chances of mistakes,” said David E. Meyer, a cognitive scientist and director of the Brain, Cognition and Action Laboratory at the University of Michigan. “Disruptions and interruptions are a bad deal from the standpoint of our ability to process information.”

Part Two will follow—