One of the main ways that causes so much stress in everyday life is taking too much on. We all do it. There are time demands from children, parents, work and home life to balance. And relaxation time “me time” and “us time” too if you can schedule it in. Then there is the daily commute to work or the school run in worsening traffic conditions…
(Aside: I live on a cul-de-sac, or dead end road. The road at the end onto which I MUST turn if I am to get anywhere at all, which is also the “High Road” through my village, is now enjoying 12 weeks of contra-flow whilst they put in a new gas main! TWELVE WEEKS! These must be the same people charged with rebuilding New Orleans! I think I could do it in less time and I’ve never put in a gas main! )
… and everything else you need do in your day just to get through what you need to do let alone anything you actually want to do. And is it only me who thinks that what used to be a simple time saver online (I’m thinking specifically of online banking) now takes an inordinate amount of time because of the additional “security features” which have been added for my benefit and “convenience”?!
It seems that there is just way too much stress out there. So we cope by trying to circumvent the extra time everything takes to do these days by doing more things at the same time. After all, this will get more jobs done more quickly won’t it? Multitasking is the way to go!
Or is it?
Do too much and you will drown in how much you have to do.
Someone once said, “Multitasking means not focusing on anything”. Mark Yarrobino expanded on this just recently in his post “One Thing At A Time, My Friend”. His argument was that multitasking means being able to cope with lots of things on your plate at the same time but still dealing with them just one at a time in order of importance. With great respect to Mark, whose blog I could read all day, I’m not sure I agree with that. It seems too simplistic to be workable, especially in my life.
I have twins, and if I only focused on one at a time until he was breakfasted and dressed for school, the other would never get out of bed. Nor the dogs fed. Nor me showered etc. There are some tasks which just seem to expand to fit the time you have available. But I can see that focusing on one thing at a time does work if you have the right support network (I need to get a wife!).
So what’s the answer?
Always focus on the end result and not the pain it takes to get there. Mike Litman put this much better in the catchy, “Focus on Reward NOT Process”. This means whenever you need to do something, focus on why you need or want to do it for the whole time you are doing it, what you will achieve when you finish doing it and DO IT NOW.
Was it easy for Steve Redgrave (British 5 times Olympic Gold Medallist) to get up every morning to go rowing and maintain his peak of physical fitness for over 16 YEARS? No of course it was not. Do you think after the third or fourth Olympic Gold, he felt like giving up? I’m sure he must have. But he wanted that fifth gold medal and THAT is what got him out of bed and on the water every morning.
Multitask by all means. But for every single task you do, FOCUS on REWARD NOT PROCESS. You will find yourself doing those tasks you keep putting off (like getting out of bed to go to the gym). You will get more done, AND do it all more efficiently. And THAT will lower your stress levels.