I read somewhere that you CAN have it all; you just can’t have it all at once. If I want to rest, I can’t also be vacuuming the car. If I want to hang pictures, I can’t also be stocking up on paper towels. If I want to paint this pumpkin with my daughter, I have to literally be in the moment, watching her, noticing the colors of the paints, enjoying the moment, and not thinking of all the undone tasks awaiting me. It’s all about choices.
I am inspired by Julia yet again. In this post on her blog, she reminds me that sometimes a small action is better than letting something fester in my brain. Once I actually built that fold-out couch in our office, I felt such a sense of accomplishment replace the frustrated feelings that rose up every time I looked at it sitting there undone. Sometimes it’s far preferable to do than to feel the burden of not doing. I have to tell myself to not do quite often these days because there is literally no way to tackle it all, but even clearing a little space (like now I can see the dining room table because the pictures are elsewhere; not hung on the walls yet, but put away for the moment) makes me feel better.
So Julia advises thinking, “what can I do about this?” If the answer is simply to take one little step toward the whole, that step may help me feel better. I have always found that breaking something down and taking the next action (a la David Allen) is worthwhile. So first I put the tools in the office. The next day I built one section of the couch. The next day I only put in one screw. Before long, it was done.
I’ve been putting a lot of items on my calendar also so that I don’t forget about them. Knowing that they’re there and I have set aside time to tackle them is a relief. Even just doing half of something is great. Miniscule can be miraculous!
These two reminders Julia wrote jumped out and said, “Pay attention, Naomi!”
And here’s what Leo Babauta says about single-tasking:
“Multitasking is out. Turns out this badge of honor from the ’90s is more fiction than fact. Our brains don’t multitask, they just rapidly switch between tasks, sometimes fast enough for us to believe we’re doing many things at once. Problem is, every time we switch, there is a “ramping cost” in your brain, it takes anywhere from a few second to 15 minutes for your brain to fully re-engage. This makes you feel insanely busy, but simultaneously craters productivity, creativity and increases feelings of anxiety and stress.
“Multitasking also requires you to hold a lot of information in your working memory, which is controlled by a part of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex (PFC). But the PFC is also responsible for will-power, and for keeping fear and anxiety in check. Multitasking increases the “cognitive load” on the PFC, overwhelming it and effectively killing it’s ability to keep fear, anxiety and the taunt of distraction at bay.”
Huh. This news turns my world upside down.