If you need to do some serious multitasking, some training in meditation beforehand could make the work smoother and less stressful, new research from the University of Washington shows. And who wouldn’t want that?
Research suggests that meditation training can help people working with information stay on tasks longer with fewer distractions and also improves memory and reduces stress. Here’s how to quickly focus your mind on the one thing you really need or want to do:
- Stop. As soon as you realize you are multitasking, stop. In other words, learn to interrupt the interruptions.
- Clear. Now take a moment to untask. To untask, try something silly, you can do a little dance, jump up and down, sing a song, or even scream. The important thing is to get in the habit (as soon as you catch yourself multitasking) of giving yourself a complete mental pause. Think of this as pressing the reset button on your brain.
- Choose. Now that you have untasked, ask yourself, “What do I really want to do (or have to do) right now?” You might need to wait a few seconds before getting an answer. Or you might find that the answer pops into your mind immediately. Now that you have cleared your mind of other people’s voices, it’s easier to hear your own.
- Imagine. Now that you’ve identified the task you most want (or need) to do, imagine the pleasure of doing it (or the pleasure of having done it). Imagine this as vividly as possible.
- Affirm. Now affirm to yourself, “Right now, I really want to (fill in the blank).” Say this several times. You can also add a specific time frame (“For the next 15 minutes, I really want to fill in the blank”).
- Do it. After taking a moment to untask and having made a conscious commitment to do just one task, you will be more likely to give it your all. In other words, you are able to unitask.
This whole process—from multitasking to unitasking, by way of untasking—doesn’t have to take long. It can happen in a flash. The more frequently you do it, the easier it becomes. When you are immersed in doing the one thing that you have consciously chosen to do, you will the pleasure of doing one thing at a time, and the confidence that comes from knowing this is truly what you want to do.
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