Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lessons from Kathryn:
The power of ONE thing


I stand in my kitchen, laptop open on the counter , checking my e-mail while talking on my headset phone. I simultaneously stir spaghetti sauce, put breakfast dishes in the dishwasher, set the table, make a salad, click down my e-mails and delete junk, quickly answer a few that only require one sentence answers, and take our whining dog out to go potty while still holding the conversation on my headset. I glance over at the weeding that I have to do in our flower beds after supper, which I always do while listening to teaching podcasts on my Zune. When the dog is done with her potty break I wash my hands and resume cooking while I answer various questions my kids are posing during this time like, "what's for dinner?" and "where's Dad?" [ on the toilet ] and "did you sign my permission form yet for the field trip Thursday?" while finishing out my call and taking another one that is waiting on call waiting. At the office and even offsite I operate in multi-task mode most times without people in the room knowing it (always have email and text coming in) and in between all this grab a sandwich, or when I get desperate or particularly stressed, Hershey kisses or cookies are usually readily available, by pressing my intercom and saying to my asst., "Cath, um...do you have any candy?" [insert Cathy laughing now as she reads this...how she puts up with me I do not know. Prozac? Xanax? Leftover Demoral or Vicodin from an operation? These things might be required to work with me. ]

Hey, I'm just being honest here. It's one of my strengths...or weaknesses, according to Larry depending on who you talk to. Trust me, many other people do this, they just don't have the nerve to admit it like I do.

I guess Kathryn heard some fatigue in my voice today as we were in our weekly meeting. I didn't even realize it was detectable, to be honest. We live our lives and they are, well...our lives. Meaning, we're so close up, sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees.

Kathryn: "I hear the tiredness in your voice, Deanna...what's up?"

Deanna: "Life. The same crazy schedule I always keep with a few extra things thrown in lately...but it's all good."

Kathryn: "Well, I don't doubt that it's all good, but what can we do to make it better?"

Then she proceeded to tell me something she's learned lately about the power of doing ONE THING as opposed to multi-tasking all the time. Where did multi-tasking ever get such top billing from? I'm a good multi-tasker but I'm realizing that it's something I shouldn't be doing 24/7 and that was confirmed by our talk today. Kathryn's suggestion to me was to try something she's learned for herself which is to get one thing at a time done with better quality...a "one-mindedness" she called it, saying, "if you're going to eat -- eat. If you're going to sleep -- sleep. If you're going to work -- work. But do it one at a time." Wow, what a concept. It's rather embarrassing to admit it's an idea I haven't even thought of. But why not? What do I have to lose? Quite possibly a whole lot of stress that I don't need.

Come to think of it, multi-tasking is hard to keep up with on a constant basis because it requires a continual switching of gears This leads to more mistakes, which in turn lead to lower productivity. It is more complicated and does require more brain power. I've tried everything I know to do to make my workspace more peaceful -- everything from keeping a very neat and clean office, to lighting candles at my desk, to playing classical music, to drinking my favorite tea while I work. Even with all that I sometimes feel like I'm going to pop a gasket. When my eye starts twitching I know I've gone too far and make a point to get a few hours extra sleep.

This insight was a timely word from Kathryn today. One-mindedness. It almost sounds like something of biblical proportions. :)

Goals I developed after today's meeting:

1) Do one thing on my initiative list at a time. Finish before going to next item .

2) Answer email and get it out of my box asap but don't do anything else while I'm answering them.

3) Don't eat while I work.

4) Do my least favorite task for the day first. Mark it off the list and get rid of it.

5) When working on things that require strategic thinking, turn phone to silent, and don't stay online.

6) Stop every hour to just breathe a few minutes.

7) Refuse to worry about an item before I get to it.

8) Be understanding of myself and others when interruptions happen.

9) When I feel like I'm getting behind remind myself I'm going slower to go faster, ultimately.

10) Celebrate at the end of the day in some way all that has been accomplished!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think I heard "I Am Woman" playing in the background of your post!

OUCH!! Girl, you stepped on my toes! I multi-task myself right into a rut...often! And then I'm critical and judgmental of myself. (I'm understanding when this happens to others, but I'm not understanding with myself...I view it as failure!)

But on a good day, my reward is small amount of chocolate chips I have in a bag stashed in the back of a cupboard. LOL Gotta have a little bit of chocolate every day! ;)

I'm better, with the Lord's help, than I was 10 years ago. But it's often a daily struggle. Great post and great 10 tips!
From up north,
Ruth, PA

Leanne said...

I needed this today...thanks!!!!!