At this time of year, most of us are inundated with information from all sources, whether TV, radio, email, web pages, radio, and even blog posts. It can be overwhelming to try to process it all. I think that a major source of stress in all of our lives is having to deal with everything, and then figure out what to do with it all. We’re in the 21st century! We should be able to process volumes and volumes of data and know everything that’s going on, and be empowered by it to make decisions about our lives to lead us where we want to go. Problem is, more often that not we are left metaphorically hiding behind a rock trying not to get knocked over by all this, leaving us dazed and confused. How can you manage all this stuff?
Answer is: You can’t.
As much as we’re told we can multitask, what we’re really doing is just flipping our minds faster and faster from one item to the next, and not really giving anything enough attention. As Dave Crenshaw writes in his book Myth of Multitasking: How Doing It All Gets Nothing Done, most people are “switch tasking” (switching back and forth between two or more tasks). This constant back and forth just wastes energy (i.e. the “running around for nothing” feel). Haven’t you felt that while trying to get everything done? I certainly have.
So, what are our options? As I’ve found with people making career choices, it usually works better if you start with you, instead of trying to deal with everything outside.
What do you really want? In David Allen’s Getting Things Done philosophy, he talks about “Horizons of Focus”, which is everything from “The Runway” (what’s on your plate now) to “50,000 feet” (what’s your purpose in life.) While you might not be ready to answer that last question, you can start thinking about what’s important in your life, and from there start thinking about what actions will support that.
What would happen if you said to yourself that you are making a list of all the areas that are important to you and that you were going to not worry about all the stuff that comes at you that’s not related to those issues? You might actually be able to handle them. And when you were done with them, you’d know you’re done.
Everything else is a distraction. My spiritual practice recently is trying to keep my distractions at bay. I want to know where those things are (in case I need them later) but I don’t want to look at them right now.
There are many techniques to clear your mind and put your distractions aside. I’ve been doing meditation recently, but whatever works for you is best.
What are the things that are distracting you, forcing you to “multitask” and wearing you out?