I wrote some while back (who's counting the fact it was nearly nine months - I've been busy, bite me!) about the joys and sorrow of trying to have it all.... I promised to come back and tell you how I was getting on with my detox. Here goes. Brace yourselves.
Back at the start of this year, I decided to try and let go a little. Let go of the need to tell my Twitter pals what I am having for my lunch, who I hate on telly tonight and how much my husband is getting on my tits. Let go of my constant urge to clean my downstairs loo, whilst my mother is on loud speaker discussing over 60's yoga and I'm popping in and out of the study to see if my iPad has updated - all whilst wearing rubber gloves. Then there was uploading Instagram pictures whilst I'm eating dinner and having a full business conversation on Whatsapp.
Friends, my name is Paula Fry and I was a consummate multi-tasker. Was.
Give me a task to do and I could find three more that I can complete at the same time just to up the anti. And it was driving me mad. The problem with the multi-taskers' brain is that they never can concentrate on one thing at a time. The simplest distraction, and they're off on a tangent, forgetting what they were doing in the first place - I felt like a human 'Dory'. Reading a book AND watching the tv whilst tweeting nonsense and talking to your child about the perils of drinking too much alcohol ('just look at your father')? Easy to lose your train of thought right?
And, I hasten to add that just because you CAN do all these things at once, it does not mean that you do any of them well. If we take the case above, how can you possibly indulge in the pages of a literary legend, whilst watching David Attenborough? David and his sperm whales deserved my undivided attention, as did Harper Lee. My daughter and the alcohol debate needed the most attention. But instead of putting down my iPad, turning down the tv and ungluing my eyes off my Twitter feed, I tried to talk to her whilst my concentration was doing the social media fandango.
So. Starting this January, I slowly began to retrain my thinking. I vowed to only do one thing at a time whether that be answering my emails, walking the dogs or cooking dinner. It hasn't been easy. My phone is like an excited toddler, constantly vying for my attention with its emails, texts, app's and its near permanent internet connection with news to read, places to shop and pictures to view. It is a powerful master to spurn.
But oh how glorious this detox it has been, once I got my mojo. Doing one thing at a time is a joy. Do you know why? I do things properly - with my whole being instead of with just a third. I throw myself headlong into a book. I watch a tv programme. I cook. I talk to my kids. I dissect dinner party banter with my husband. I sell my wardrobe on eBay. I tweet. I perv at high fashion pics on Instagram.... All whilst doing nothing else at all.
And I hate to admit it, but I get a ton more things done and in quicker time.
MY TOP TIPS FOR A MULTI-TASKING DETOX
- When you are at home put your phone upstairs or in another room to charge.
- If you're out with friends, turn your phone off. You can always turn it back on half way through the evening in case you are needed, but honestly, did we ever need to be contactable 24/7 before?
- Make sure no phones make their way into the kitchen at meal times. EVER.
- If you are a multi-tasker, happen you're a list maker too. Make your list. Do one thing on it at a time and cross off as you finish. Do not start anything else until that task is complete. Your tasks could be as basic as read a book, watch your box set or have a bath! NB Keep those lists short and concise and start each day with a new one so it's less daunting.
- Go for a walk without your phone. Look, listen, smell and smile. Awaken your senses.
- Go and eat lunch in the park. Or in your garden. Just don't eat whilst staring into a screen.
- All this lists can apply to home and to work. Hands up who doesn't get all their work stuff done in time for that deadline as they have been secretly 'lost' in a Facebook fog?
- It's ok to do nothing sometimes. Honestly. Empty your head and relax - if you can learn to mediate, do try, it's a life saver.
As much as we love her, just don't be too Dory.