Have you ever got to work, spent 20 mins browsing Twitter or the BBC News and then had to work at home after dinner because you did get everything you needed to done? Or have you ever watched a TV show whilst playing games on your phone only to suddenly realise the credits are rolling and you didn’t really see any of it? Or hold a conversation with your partner or friend whilst actually playing Candy Crush (which I have actually never played…) and just muttering “yeah” at sporadic intervals? If you have you’re not alone. Aside from the fact that people seem to ever be able to ‘switch off’ in the world of 2016, they also seem incapable of focusing on one thing at a time.
Hands-up, I am guilty of having done many of these things myself. Time is precious and I will often go on my laptop whilst we are also watching a film or some episodes (as we are doing now in fact). But over the years I have noticed my ability to concentrate on one single task getting worse. The result…I often feel like I’ve done several things badly rather than one thing properly.
There is so much talk these days about “being mindful” and making sure you have some time for yourself to switch off. However, I have come to my own belief that we would all be mentally healthier if rather than doing several things at once, we focused on one thing at a time and gave it all our attention. Perhaps then it would be less necessary to try and carve 10 minutes out of our day to try and give our brains a break. It’s hard to do; I’ve tried and the habit of always reaching for my phone when I have 2 minutes with nothing happening has become subconscious; I’m doing it before I realise I am.
However it extends to bigger and more disruptive habits. When I am at work and find myself thinking about things I need to do at home, I have to remind myself to use every moment as efficiently as possible to make my working hours count. Then when I am at home, I find my mind wandering to work and guilt for not being full time creeping in; But I remind myself that by focusing on work when I am there, I know I have done the absolute best job that I can. So when I am at home I need to put work aside and focus on being with H.
None of these habit changes are coming easily. But when I force myself to focus and train myself to not try and ‘multi-task’, I find I am happier and more productive. At work I give all of my attention to my various projects and assignments to use every minute of my 8 hours in the office as best I can. Then when I am at home, I am at home; I am with H to play with her, care for her and teach her; I am there to look after our home; I am there to enjoy the fact that I am in the fortunate position to spend two whole days a week on my own with my daughter whilst also being able to retain my career. Because life is fleeting and the unexpected can happen. There is nothing I fear more than looking back on the day / month / year and realising I never fully enjoyed any of it!
So, my advice to you, live in the moment. Sit and play with your kids. Indulge in a good conversation with your partner or a friend. Deliver the best results you can at work. Because if it’s worth any of your time then it’s surely worth your attention.