Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Back to the List

At the beginning of my Simplifying and Decluttering quest, I told you that I planned to pick a few items from the list I posted and work on them for a while. Then, once they'd become somewhat-routine, I'd pick one or two more to begin practicing. Here's my next one:

#47 Single-task. Multi-tasking is more complicated, more stressful, and generally less productive. Instead, do one task at a time.

I SO needed to implement this suggestion, in so many areas. One of the neat things about writing my dissertation was the intense concentration I could achieve when I sequestered myself upstairs with only one task to do and with all distractions minimized. That's how I got my dissertation written and defended in a six-month period. But now, trying to work on something with my BlackBerry blinking right beside me and TweetDeck chirping on my computer and people sticking their heads in to say hello really slows down my productivity.

Additionally, since I've felt so snowed under (pun intended) this year, I wouldn't even let myself eat lunch without also grading, or checking email, or reading over my lesson plans for the next class. The result? Not much work got done, and I didn't taste a bite of my lunch. And although my intention in working through lunch was to get more done so I wouldn't feel as stressed, combining the two actually had the opposite effect. I felt more stressed, AND I wanted to eat more because I never even let myself enjoy my food. Really? It's all gone already?

So, what am I doing now? I work on one task at a time, and I turn off all electronic notifiers and put my phone out of sight. I close my door unless it's during posted office hours. I have a checklist, and I work through it methodically. As expected, I'm getting much more work done!

And as for lunch? I shut the door, spread out my food on my desk, turn away from the computer and the BlackBerry, and simply eat. I'm trying to slow down and actually taste my food,which is more enjoyable on some days than others, depending on what I've brought for lunch, but is always less stressful, no matter what I'm eating.

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