June 2017

Dear Homegrown Yogis,

While aimlessly browsing online one afternoon, I ran across what at first seemed like the most ridiculous invention.  It is a series of covers for your iPhone that limit what you can do on your phone to one function.  You put one cover on to make or receive voice calls, you put one to check your email, and so on.  The point?  A product designer created these to challenge us to do the unthinkable – mono-task in a multi-tasking world.

I may have simply gone past this at another time, but I saw it at the exact moment that I needed to see it.  This last month has been jam-packed with things to do, places to go, and to-do lists to mark off – Freida’s first ballet recital and final weeks of school, our third weekend of teacher training, and summer vacations to plan.  For the past several months, I have felt incredibly scattered.  I have forgotten to do things I knew I needed to do and simple tasks like writing a thank you note have taken me weeks to complete.

As I read more and more on this idea of mono-tasking, I realized that it isn’t actually ridiculous at all.  Conversely, it’s pretty genius.   A study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that interruptions as short as two to three seconds doubled the number of errors participants made in an assigned task.  Another experiment at the University of California showed after 20 minutes of interrupted performance, people report higher stress levels, frustration, workload, effort and pressure.  They worked faster when multi-tasking but ended up producing less.  I had been feeling this in my own life lately – I was working more, doing less and feeling more overwhelmed than ever.

Two weeks ago, I made a commitment to changing my multi-tasking ways.  As I write this letter, my phone is in the other room and my web browser is closed.  When I’m driving in the car and hear my phone ring with a text, I resist the urge to look at it.  When I’m watching cartoons with Freida, I don’t open Facebook for that one quick glance that always leads to 20 minutes of scanning.  Although I may not be as quick to respond to a text or email now, I am already feeling more focused and less frazzled.  I’m noticing that tasks like writing this letter or responding to an email are taking less time and including fewer errors.

Mono-tasking is very similar to the idea of drishti.  When our gaze is scattered and unstable during our yoga practice, we in turn feel scattered and unstable.  By committing to one focal point, we give ourselves a sense of balance and stability.  So in this world of multi-tasking and doing more, I am committing to my inner drishti and challenge you to as well!

With love,

Rachel


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  1. Rachel B

    Love this!

    I have challenged myself to get back to mono-tasking in the past, and receive criticism for not being instantly available to those who message. At that time, I had a new-ish baby and could justify setting my phone to silent so that I could tend to the baby without disturbing her. Now, I have a job from home that makes it appear as though I am constantly available, when, in fact, I choose my family first, and then manage my work tasks – but that doesn’t stop the constant buzzing of messages coming in, that distract me from being totally present with my kids. The benefit of working a flexible job from home was *supposed* to be that I could put the needs of the kids first, and contribute to our income second…

    I have found that turning the volume up on my phone and setting it in a different room, causes me to treat it like an old-fashioned (ha ha) home phone; I can hear it ring if someone *actually* calls, but having it away from me reminds me to not go grabbing for it with every ping of a new message. In a way, I have trained my most needy co-worker to call if something is really requiring my “urgent” attention. Otherwise, she demands too much of my attention for mundane things that really can wait.

    The other thing, and I may do this again, is removing Facebook app from my phone. Honestly, it is not healthy how often I find myself mindlessly picking up my phone to see what my friends are up to, just because I have 2 seconds of not doing something else. It feels like a dirty habit sometimes! I told myself that the reason I needed to reinstall it was to easily post pictures for my family who were missing out on seeing their grandbabies/nieces/etc while we lived overseas. And now we don’t live overseas any longer, soooo…

    This “comment” has become longer than I intended, but like so many, I’m sure, I just found myself saying “yes! this!” when reading your post, and decided to let you know how much this resonates with me.

    See you soon, lovely lady!

    P.S. Decision made… I’m doing it right now. Facebook is coming off my phone!!

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