How To: Monotask aka The Antithesis to Multitasking (The Question is... Can You?)

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I am definitely a multitasker. And I can be incredibly effective at it: If you need proof, come sit with me one day when I am live tweeting an event. Between transcribing what people are saying, looking up things they reference, responding to comments on the hashtag... yes, I can multitask the crap out that.

But there are other circumstances like meetings and presentations where hold out as long as possible without multitasking, really trying to be in the moment but.... alas, I get bored. Especially if they are rehashing the same-old same-old. I fight with myself to stay present and to really listen to what's going on, but after about an hour...squirrel! When my attention is waning, my brain wanders and I think up all sorts of stuff. That's when I find it hardest to stay in the moment. I want to do something. Even if that's just checking in with the outside world, or updating some task list. That's me filling space, though. Trying to keep my active brain engaged or to capture what's in it before I forget. The outcome is that I end up multitasking.

At other times, especially when I'm tired or stressed, I have found that I multitask by default. I do a bunch of small things and I have to consciously recognize my behaviour, throw on some very loud music, and focus.

Just. do. one. thing.
Be in the moment.
That can be an ongoing battle, especially since I measure my own success, my own productivity in terms of volume of output.

To that end, I discovered this great TED talk by Paolo Cardini that reminds us of the importance of being in the moment. A fantastic message... if you have the time for it. But don't worry: it's under 3 minutes. So you should be able to watch the whole thing between tasks and actually take it all in. Or ask he refers to it: monotask.

Do you think you can? Or will you... squirrel!?



And for those of you who don't get the reference, I present, "Squirrel!":