"Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand.
The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus." ~Alexander Graham Bell
In our multi-tasking age, do you believe that you aren't productive unless you're juggling a dozen things at once?
We've learned to keep several balls in the air — we simultaneously compose an email, talk on the phone, jot a handwritten note, cook dinner, and check Facebook or Twitter updates. Often without even looking up.
Then came instant messaging, text messaging, Skype, Pinterest, and Facetime. Multi-tasking was no longer about productivity.
It was a way of living.
Over time, however, that lifestyle hurls us into the nearest wall at 200 mph in complete burnout. We've observed it in friends. We've seen it in loved ones. We've identified it in ourselves.
Imagine instead, a single-tasking life.
Imagine waking up and going for a walk with nothing else on your mind but walking. Focused on posture. Your stride. The fresh air pulsing in and out of your lungs. The morning coolness.
Then you enjoy savoring every flavorful bite of your fresh breakfast, prepared carefully as you focused on the process itself.
You read a book, as if nothing else in the world existed. You do your work, one task at a time, each done with full focus and dedication. You spend time with loved ones, as if no one else existed. Sounds like a fairytale, doesn't it?
Charles Dickens once wrote, “He did each single thing as if he did nothing else.”
This is a life lived fully in the moment, with intentionality to do your God-given best in anything you do — whether that’s a work project or making green tea.
It's a lifestyle that allows us to see God in the moments. Hear His voice in the silence.
Since returning from Scotland two weeks ago, I have purposefully lived a single-tasking life. The results astonished me. Here's what I noticed:
* My work became more effective, efficient, and productive.
* The quality of my writing went deeper.
* My time alone in prayer and studying the Word became richer.
* My time with family and friends became much more meaningful.
* My reading time became less distracted.
* I reveled in the feeling of losing myself in, and finding new meaning in, the most basic tasks.
So how do you live a single-tasking life?
When everyone around you, including yourself, has such a high level of productivity expectation, how in the world do we commit to such a lifestyle?
Like anything worth doing well, it takes practice.
1. Become conscious. Become more aware you’re starting that activity. As you do it, become aware of really doing it, and your urge to switch to something else. Paying attention is the important first step.
2. Clear distractions. If you’re going to read, clear everything else away except you and the book. If you’re responding to email, close every other program and all browser tabs and focus. If you’re doing a work task, have nothing else open, and turn off the phone. If you’re going to eat, put away the technology and turn off the TV.
3. Choose wisely. Don’t just start doing something. Give it some thought — do you really want to turn on the TV? Do you really want to tackle email right now? Is this the most important task you need to be doing?
4. Pour yourself into it. If you’re going to write, do it with complete focus and dedication. Set a timer, put everything else away, and give it your undivided attention.
5. Practice. This isn’t something you’ll learn to do overnight. Trust me, I found that to be very true. Keep at it. Practice daily, throughout the day to resist the ADD urges.
Of course, we all have days every now and then where multi-tasking is necessary. Life happens. But do those days represent the exception or the lifestyle?
As a result of single-task living the past two weeks, my contentment level has soared. I feel such a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day. Like I had actually lived that day. Each moment. Over dinner a few evenings ago, a friend remarked how relaxed I was. Joy bubbled easily.
I feel like a blind person blessed with restored sight.
Jesus provided such a perfect example of single-tasking. He fully engaged with the person(s) in front of him or the specific task at hand before moving on.
"Then Jesus focused his attention on Thomas. 'Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don't be unbelieving. Believe.'" John 20:27 (MSG)
I challenge you to live a single-tasking life for one week.
You won't be good at it at first. I experienced multi-tasking withdrawal - especially with technology. But you will be surprised at how dramatically your quality of life improves.
I'm hooked and committed to the art of single-tasking.
It's not a lost art - just a forgotten one.
So ... are you up for single-task living? It would be such a privilege to cheer you on and encourage you along the journey.