distracted? go back to basics

Jo offers two client stories, as well as her own, on how mono-tasking is satisfying.

Acknowledging out loud that I have been a professional coach for over five years makes me smile. What a journey! Continuous training (in psychology, mindfulness, emotional intelligence, neuroscience…) informs and deepens the questions I pose to clients, and to myself. There are many rich layers to my proposition of simplifying life so that we can see our truth and get to what really matters.

Yet, to honour the nature of this approach, sometimes just sticking with essentials to get through the day is wise. Two clients last week reported on how they initiated simple strategies to get work done. In previous sessions we had sifted through their classic busyness to uncover purpose, and they both concluded  that a mono-tasking approach was needed. The results not only advanced their professional endeavours, but relieved stress and invited a feeling of satisfaction.

Self employed Maya* liked my classic ’20 minute GOs’ approach – set a timer, work for 20 minutes, get out of the chair and walk (or dance!) around the room. This addressed her aggravation around getting bored easily and giving up. The brief pause gave her a physical stretch that invigorated her enough to get back to the original task. “I did this three times in a row. I got more done in that one hour then I used to do in a whole afternoon!”

David*, a project designer, described a problem with interruptions preventing a deep dive into his work. He was frustrated because a project seemed to never get started and loomed large as the deadline approached. We explored how he best functions. “I need minimally a half hour just to get my head into the material before I can really take a bite out of a big file.” His solution was to close the door of his office after he posted a sign saying ‘In session, available at 3pm’. With the phone off and his assistant fielding requests, he dedicated two hours straight to his task. “I did this three times last week. Six hours may not seem like much, but the quality of the work showed. Very satisfying.”

As a very skilled multitasker, I understand distraction! It is not natural for me to stick to one thing at a time but when I do I truly benefit. This afternoon I will build the next layer on a topic I am presenting at a conference next month. In my home office, I have fun using colourful markers on my white board, swaying back and forth on my feet while I come up with points to jot down. I play a meditative track in the background on repeat – something upbeat but not driving, and without lyrics. Today it will be Antoine Dufour, a French-Canadian acoustic guitarist.(“En T’Attendant”)

I will slip into creative mode for as long as my attention will allow me. It may be only one hour, it may be three, I don’t know! I do know that I will enjoy the mindful flow of creativity.

I would love to hear about your monotasking stories!