But Who Has The Time ?

Yeah, its all well and good. We get it. Find passion; Work at it; Be happy; Simple enough.

But who has the time for these? From dawn to dusk many of us are too busy taking up life’s obligations that we hardly find anytime to reflect upon ourselves. Don’t think that only people with too much on their plates are the busy ones. Ever heard of being busy doing nothing? Yeah, I am like the mayor of that town and I know many who are the loyal citizens of this township.

We get tired mentally when we struggle. When our mind is constantly distracted with things of little value like emails, twitter and other social networks it is hard for us to focus on one thing. It is much harder for our brain to switch between tasks than to keep its focus on just one task. Consequently we take longer to do things that would normally take much lesser time if we try to do many things at once.

This kind of multi-tasking which has been hailed by productivity gurus for a long time has been soundly rebuked in recent times. Instead, try single-tasking. Just focus on one thing at time. Pick one and keep at it. Do not just check email for a second. Outlook notification can wait for while. Sure, you will be distracted into other things, but when you find yourself doing that, consciously bring back your focus back to the task at hand. You will be surprised at how much you are able to accomplish with this simple routine.

I first came to know about this technique from Leo Babuata who writes about mindful living in his world famous and endlessly awesome blog ZenHabits. I had deployed single-tasking in my work place a few months back and I have been blown away by its effectiveness. Previously, I used to listen to music while writing code (which I do for living) and about every five minutes or so there will be an email or meeting notification from Outlook. Then there are Gmail Notifications, pings on IM, team mates asking questions, friends stopping by and, my personal vice, day dreaming. I was notoriously distracted and it was difficult for me to focus on anything for more than a few minutes and even tougher to bring back the focus once it was lost. Consequently It took me longer to finish tasks than they should and they seemed harder too.

I know I could have finished them sooner, because now I know my actual speed of work, when there are no distractions. I left my ipod at home, turned off all email and IM notifications during certain times of the day and suddenly I had uninterrupted time. I have been doing this for a few months now and it has completely changed my work day. I finish all tasks sooner and I would say the quality is much better than the times when I got distracted a lot. I still do all the things that distracted me before. Its just that now they are not distractions. I take them up at certain times of the day and do them one at a time. And I do a better job of them too. Can you believe that I have set aside a time for day dreaming on a daily basis?

Something else I have noticed since I began single tasking is that I am much more awake and active through out the day. Before, I would be active in the morning but by the time 3’o clock rolled in, I would be slower than a slug. Mentally I would be exhausted to the point that I just wanted to go home. I usually get a cup of coffee which rarely helped. By the time I get home, all I wanted to do was sleep. Now, I have enough time and energy to do some good amount of reading on a daily basis. Some of it end up in my blog posts.

Just by removing distractions, I have drastically improved the way I managed time. One of the main things I learned from this experience is that simplifying is the key to streamlining our day. When we take away things that don’t have to be on our way, the path becomes much easier to navigate.

By doing that I think we would find our day to day life to be much smoother and certainly more enjoyable.

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I am on a blog-a-day-for-a-year crusade. Keep me motivated with your comments. Or tell me if you noticed that the posts are becoming increasingly longer.