Yup, I failed for awhile. I gave up on this when my life really hit burnout and I just tried to survive. I’m okay with that and I forgive myself. Bec
ause I didn’t really fail. I didn’t really give up. I’m notoriously for trying to do it all and all at once. Always rushing. Always thinking of what’s next and next after that. Worrying over the future and now and the past. It has a name. Magical thinking. Thinking that if you worry enough that it will get better. I can say with certainty that it only shows you down and burns you out. Emotionally, mentally, and physically.
Not too long ago I read about just how bad humans really are at multitasking. (No really, search up “multitasking is bad” and you will see a ton of articles) It is not efficient. In fact, it creates a mess in our heads and in our lives. But you can’t look at a job req without it being a keyword. In an interview we all know that one of our strong points should be multitasking because that’s what they want to hear right? Well, what they actually want is efficiency and quality, whether or not they admit to that. That may mean we have to focus on one thing at a time and for some reason our society has gotten this idea that that means being slow. But is that really true? I don’t think so, especially as someone so easily distracted and as someone who has a difficult time getting back to what I was doing when interrupted. That’s my executive dysfunction.
In a world that places so many demands on us, for our attention, our emotions, our creativeness, our energy, how do we hold up the slow down sign and reassure at the same time that it will actually be faster for us to focus on one thing at a time, monotask.
Look, monotask, is highlighted for me as being misspelled and isn’t in my dictionary. Because of the huge emphasis we have put on multitasking, monotask isn’t even recognized. I’m in my mid 30s and I just heard of it this last year.
What is monotasking? Well, mono mean one or singular. And we know tasks…those little things we write down and try to check off each day, the little things we forget like water that plant on the back shelf you forgot about last week, or pay the phone bill, or write up that presentation for your lead that you need tomorrow morning first thing. Yeah, task. A four letter word if you’re like me right, at home with all those other four letter words.
To monotask we focus on doing just one thing. It is harder than you actually think. You may be thinking that you already monotask all the time. In reality though we don’t do it that often, conciously or by choice. How often are you sitting down to write or read something, but you get notifications, a child is asking for another snack, your mind flits to what you “should” be doing, or what did you have planned for dinner. All these thoughts and interruptions mean you have to bring yourself back to focus on what you sat down to do.
Say you’re programming, your email is blowing up every few minutes, apparently there is some bug in production that needs to be fixed yesterday. Do you ignore the task you were doing to fix this, except you have a deadline but this bug needs to be fixed now, what if it breaks something else…and so and so is standing at your cubicle talking about the fantastic vacation they are going on next week, and your spouse just texted you asking what you want for dinner that night and do you still love them, and you have a meeting you have to demo at this afternoon but your demo isn’t ready…. I think you get the point. It’s overwhelming, especially for brains like ours. Pulled in so many directions at once and having to figure out the priority.
If you have ADHD organization of tasks and prioritization of tasks are concepts that we struggle with so when too much is on our plate these functions become more confused and fuzzy, and our ability goes down or if you’re like me. The question becomes now how can monotask in a world that believes whole heartedly that multitasking is the only way to be? When employers feel that to be the standout and most productive employee that we must always be multitasking. I mean is that not why they always spout off about work/life balance, just more ways to multitask? How can we explain to those around us, our loved ones, and our employers that we could and would do so much more by slowing down?
Well, I can’t answer that for every persons situation and I know its exceedingly hard to ask for accomodations in the work place but this may be an area where we can finesse our strengths and weaknesses and prove our worth. You’ll probably need to have a conversation with those around you before diving straight in. As you may be a mit more chaotic at first, but with practice and time, you may just end up in a better place than the chaos that is always multitasking.
Monotasking is really about setting boundaries for yourself and boundaries can be very difficult in any situation. Learning to say you’ve got enough on your plate or that no, you don’t have time for that and its not a priority for you, or even, its not your responsibility, will go a long way not only to establish solid boundaies but to also help you monotask. We’ve come so far away from where we have been okay with boundaries, and if you’ve got anxiety along with executive functioning issues, your boundaries may be as weak as mine are, in other words, pretty nonexistant.
The thing is, you can change all this. You can say enough is enough. You can set boundaries. You can do what is best for you and your mental health and your career. You can have a say in your life. It may be hard, and it may sometimes get people to be frustrated with you, but that is their choice. Now, obviously there are certain populations that this may be more difficult, they have too much at risk to speak up. For those of you, I’m genuinely sorry and I wish I had an answer for you. All I can say is bit by bit, demand what you need and don’t look back, you aren’t doing anything wrong.
As for this blog, I’m going to do better. I can make it a priority and I can set those boundaries that will allow me to do this without being over booked or overwhelmed and shutting down. I am very passionate about this, as it is my own way of making my life managable and something I can be proud of.