My New Buzzword

I always wonder who "they" are that come up with new catch phrases and such. Well, I'm pleased to say that as of this very moment (or actually a few days ago when it occurred to me), I came up with a new term: uni-task.

This is a verb which is the antonym of multi-task. We all know about multi-tasking. That highly praised and coveted skill, wherein one does numerous things simultaneously. Dictionary dot com explains it this way, "Often used of humans in the same meaning it has for computers, to describe a person doing several things at once." Last I checked, we're not machines.

I've spent a number of years being quite a proficient multi-tasker and being very proud of that fact. However, somewhere around the time I entered my fourth decade here on earth, it seemed that my skill was diminishing. Instead of being an efficient multi-tasker, I'd sort of become a confused pinball, bouncing around from one thing to the next, not entirely sure where I was headed next. While I thought this malady may be age-related, lately I've been encountering women in all walks and ages of life (including the less than 40 crowd) who suffer from pinball-itis.

A friend and I have discussed this matter and have concluded that multi-tasking isn't always all it's cracked up to be. If anything, it often leaves us distracted and addled. Not only that, it's a great way to do only half of about 20 or 30 things in any given day, yet never complete anything.

I've decided the antidote to multi-tasking is to focus on one thing at a time. Since there's currently no buzzword, I've dubbed it uni-tasking. I'm finding there are plenty of benefits to uni-tasking.

  • You can actually start AND compete something (in less than weeks, months, or years). This leads to a feeling of accomplishment, which has the added benefit of motivating you to move onto another task.

  • Your thoughts and imagination can flourish as your brain is only thinking about one thing at a time.

  • If you're a list maker, you'll be able to check something off, not merely mark it as "in progress" and carry it over to the next day . . . and the next . . . and the next.

  • You can fully participate in the activity because your mind isn't worried about all the other simultaneous tasks going on.

  • There's a certain peacefulness that comes from being single-minded.

  • When someone talks to you, you'll probably be able to really "hear" what's being said, because there's be room in your brain for their words.

The good things in life are only good when we're able to focus upon them. The most beautiful sunrise or sunset won't even be noticed if you're speeding down the road, ordering pizza on your cell phone, fussing at the kids, and trying to get to the store before they close. At home, you'll never notice the sweet and tender moments when your children play especially well together, your child shows you a beautiful drawing, or just hugs you and says, "I love you." There's no room left because you're racking your brain trying to figure out what you'll serve for dinner, talking with the credit card company about the late charge, waiting for the washing machine to quit so you can turn on the dishwasher, and checking email in between.

So, slow down, take a chance and give uni-tasking a try. You may find that you like it. You may even do it again. And again.

*** For more along this though, check out this post at Seek First His Kingdom.


Homeschool Housewife said...

HOW do you do it though? I see the benefits. I have longingly watched my husband doing it, well really most the men in my life are uni-taskers. But how do you actually accomplish it? I mean the reason all the men in the world are free to focus on one thing at a time is because the women are handling everything else.

I mean when I carry my laundry to the garage to wash and trip over a toy, I stop and pick up the toys on the floor. At this point I put them in my pocket to put away next time I go back down the hall and mentally think of what I am going to say to my son that is different and more meaningful than the first 100 times I told him not to leave his toys in the walkway. So, I am now doing 3 things. Ok. Not too bad. I continue to the kitchen where I catch my 2 year old in the act of washing his hands. This means he has practically stripped naked, has soap on his hands, both cheeks (I think this is a war paint thing-Thanks Peter Pan!) and smeared on his tummy. He has the sprayer happily spraying down the whole kitchen. So, I set down the laundry and clean him up and then pull a dirty towel or 2 off the hamper to "walk" across the floor as I continue to the garage. As I open the door I let the dog in, and give his feeder a kick to get the dog food to better fill the bowl. All a normal 10 minutes in the morning.

So, how do I get them to all handle things while I focus on the laundry? This is not a joke, I need to know. Please. I just found the cars in my pocket and I need help. ;)

Seriously though, great post. Thanks for the smile.

Jsmith said...

I recently read a business article discussing this concept. I don't belive they had an awesome catch phrase, though. Basically, it said that being a "multi-tasker" is a very inefficient way to work, for the reasons you described. You will do a better job if you focus on one thing, are less likely to make mistakes, and don't feel as overwhelmed. My new motto is going to be "Uni-taskers get it done, one thing at a time!"

Bunny Trails said...

HH - I think sometimes we can slow down, stop for a moment, and make a conscious decision to focus on the present thing. Given the time in which we live, I doubt we can ever fully achieve this. But I believe there are times when we can. Even if it's only a small portion, it's better than nothing at all. And just like anything else, if it works well, you'll be motivated to do it again . . . and again. :D

Bunny Trails said...

J - I like that motto!! I'll have to use it. Thanks! :D

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