A few weeks ago I started up a little challenge series. The idea being that in between epic 30:thirty adventures, I could be encouraging myself with challenges, and of course, bringing excellent content to the blog. You’re welcome.
Well, first challenge was to do one thing at a time only, always. Always. Sounds easy as pie right? Maybe so at first, but take a moment to consider what you are doing when you’re dong mundane or simple tasks.
• Watching TV… Are you scrolling Facebook too? Yup, Facebook is considered a second activity.
• Cooking dinner… Did you forget to stir those potatoes because you were rushing to get a load of washing on too.
• Brushing your teeth… This was my worst one. If I wasn’t taking the toothbrush in to the shower, I was getting dressed with it, checking the kitchen with it, getting lunch sorted for work with it! That toothbrush has seen more corners of my house than my mum, and that’s saying something! I was so bad at doing everything while brushing my teeth, that I took to white board marker all over my bathroom mirror. And let me tell you, it worked a treat!
There were a lot of things I would do alongside another task, simply for time saving purposes. Knowing that this would be a tricky habit to break, I gave myself a punishment to accompany the challenge. I left it up to someone else (THANKS BREEZA) to set my time period (19 days) and gave myself the punishment of 1 extra day added to the time for every mishap I had. Eeeeeeek!
First thing I realised when I stopped the multitasking was that I was doing waaaaaaaaaayyyyyy too much every week. I could get no where near as much achieved now and at first, this overwhelmed me. After a good week or so of trying, in vain, to get just as much done as I was back in my two for one days, I realised I had to change something… Pretty obvious huh? Well, it was after a while. I had to PLAN LESS. All of this over doing and jam packing my days was leaving me overwhelmed, stressed, and anything but the picture of a Stepford wife that I was apparently trying to achieve before.
This realisation came one day while on the phone to my boyfriend. I was having to be careful because I never planned in our phone conversations, and gone were the days of cooking dinner while we conversed, or driving, or Facebooking. Our chats were, are, pretty damn important, he’s FIFO, I shift work, we have to be really good at distance communication. All of a sudden I had to give my 100% undivided attention which I wasn’t really doing all the time before. The thing is though, the undivided attention is exactly what I’d hope for in return, but I wasn’t even giving it! Noted.
One evening early on in the piece I had not quite finished my study for the day and I gasped when I realised that not only was I going to be late to a catch up with my wine tour friends, but I hadn’t even factored in the phone conversation with my man. Shit! By the time he called I was a wreck of anxiety. Completely overwhelmed. Overwhelmed is not an emotion I handle well…. Thankfully he was able to make me realise that no, my friends wouldn’t abandon me if I was a tad late for pizza night, and that some days you don’t get as much done as you initially plan, and that that’s ok. That day I quite haphazardly threw one thing at a time out of the window and copped the extra day at the end. It made me feel better to take the pressure off for a moment and start again the next day with a new sense of slowing the fuck down.
That’s when I started changing my to do list a bit. I split it up. What do I NEED to do? What do I WANT to do, if I have time? And what is absolutely NON-NEGOTIABLE for me to do each day. At this moment I took to my fridge with an assortment of coloured white board markers, and listed the things I absolutely wanted to achieve each day to make me feel excellent, and then started a second list of the little bonus things. In case you haven’t noticed, I like the whiteboard markers and I am not afraid to use them!
Considering this challenge came when my time was already worn thin. I was doing the writing course and had to find a good minimum of 5 hours a week that I simply didn’t have. Throw my boyfriend being on break, needing to exercise, work and all the other things in to the mix, and I was one very busy girl. Thankfully, I had the sense to put “do the housework” on the ‘if I have time list’. Who needs that kind of unkempt stress. Phew.
So what did cutting the multitasking do for me?
• I came to realise the things I was doing for me and the extra things I was doing for other reasons. Popping the essentials to the top of the list empowered me to keep putting myself at the top. In turn, I was filling up my own cup first and then became able to overflow in to other aspects of my life.
• I went through a lot less toothbrushes… I shit you not, I can’t say the last time I haven’t had to replace a toothbrush because it had become a really shit replacement of chewing gum. I would multitask while brushing and in turn just basically chew my toothbrush. Sorry Colgate, no need to buy shares in you just yet!
• I took the pressure off myself. I sometimes get very over excited about what I want to achieve, and so stack up my weeks with so many things that are going to leap me towards my hearts desire. However, I over fill it so much that I wear myself down in the process. Take it back a step, take my time and move forward with all the right timing for myself.
In the end, I added 2 extra days to the end of the challenge. I was pretty stoked with that, I really embraced it and worked hard on some bad habits. I won’t lie though, I have let some stuff creep back in. The ole, speakerphone chats in the car are back and I stop a task to check my phone every now and then. I did enjoy the power of the challenge and I will move forward being more mindful with what I am doing and knowing that not many things are so important that you have to stop to acknowledge it.
I definitely encourage anyone to give it a go and see what it does for you. Sometimes it takes stopping to realise just what and how much you’re doing!