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!