It’s easy to feel that if you’re not doing 10 things at once, you’re not doing enough. We’ve created a world for ourselves where there’s always something on our to-do list, and failure to achieve any one of them feels like failing at life. Then, because your attention is scattered, you end up doing each task half as well as you could have, which leaves you feeling even further behind.
But this isn’t just a question of quality of performance, it’s about quality of life. Life is better, everything is better when we’re present. When we’re focused wholeheartedly on the thing we’re doing right now. Here’s Leo Babauta’s take on the subject:
Every now and then, I have to remind myself to do one thing at a time.
The tendency to try to do a whole bunch of things seems to be a natural result of my wanting to get everything done as soon as I can. Many browser tabs open, switching between one thing and the next, endlessly, endlessly.
No wonder I can never focus on anything!
Then I remember to do one thing at a time, and it’s like coming home.
Leo Babauta on thew struggles living in the “age of distraction” presents. He admits at the beginning of the piece that calling rest a “lost art” is a little hyperbolic, but I’m not sure I’d agree. The scenario he describes below really does seem to be how most modern people spend their lives.
I could rail about the age of distraction (I’ve done that before), and social media and devices. Yada yada, you’ve heard it from me and many others. But whatever the reason is, we rarely rest anymore.
Think about it: when you get a break, what do you normally do? Go on your phone or computer? Check messages or social media or your favorite websites? Watch video online? That’s how most people spend their breaks — myself included. I’m part of this.
What happens when you’re done with work for the day? That’s if you’re ever done — many of us will work practically until we are falling asleep, if we’re allowed to. But if you’re done, do you read and watch and message online? Most people I know do that.
When do we ever truly rest, not only our bodies but our minds?