Alright, it’s time to address the elephant in the room. Or more like the iPhone in the room.

What’s the deal with MULTITASKING?!

Last night I experienced a glorious three hour dinner with one of my favorite people on the planet. We had amazing conversation, soaked in the gorgeous ambience of the restaurant and actually slowed down enough to enjoy every. single. bite of deliciousness. We were satiated, energized, and my body felt soooooooooo good afterward.

Not only did it remind me that turning dinner into an event is freaking fun and I want it do that more often, this dinner was part of an experiment I’ve been doing for the last 10 days after receiving multiple messages that I was trying to do way too much at once and my nervous system was starting to feel frayed out.

The experiment?

 

Do. One. Thing. At. A. Time.

Just one.

Nothing else.

In theory? Totally simple.

Turns out, that was NOT easy for me.

This experiment came about with a series of realizations that I was spending less and less time in the present moment, and more and more time distracted by thoughts, my phone, eating while checking my email, finding the right song to listen to while driving- and I was feeling disconnected from my body and my inner knowing (like the time I realized I was on my phone looking at Instagram while I was peeing. So not necessary.)

All of these distractions we live with can be really seductive. That’s why they have all of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix. Distraction. It just pulls us in and keeps us safe in our comfort zones. (Buffy? Just me?)

And I noticed my brain was doing a brilliant job of rationalizing these distractions. Telling me I was being productive, that multitasking is awesome, that everything is working out- even though my body was feeling tense, work was feeling hard, and I was starting to isolate and hide out.

So I decided to do an experiment.

After unconsciously checking Facebook on my phone for the zillionth time that day, in a mini fit of frustration I deleted all the social media off my phone.

And then I had a mini panic attack. My brain told me how impossible it was going to be to run my business without email and Facebook messenger on my phone. I spent about fifteen minutes breathing deeply.

/* I want to note here how amazingly privileged I know I am to even be able to write about this is an issue, and that to have the time to freak out about whether social media is on my magic space phone or not is an enormous level of “my life is really awesome.” */ end note.

After I convinced myself I wasn’t going to die, I set up the experiment.

The 10 Day, Do One Thing At A Time Experiment

Guidelines:

  • 10 day period with no social media on my phone, and only allowing 5 browser tabs open on my computer at a time.
  • Everything is single task:
    • washing dishes, chopping vegetables, talking on the phone, eating, watching tv, driving, meditation-
      • Note: for this experiment I also chose to not listen to music or podcasts while driving or doing other things. Often I do this, and I love it- I also was curious to see how present I could be with things like folding laundry and walking around.
  • observing when I had the impulse to distract myself, and documenting how often I reached for my phone, unconsciously opened new browser tabs, ate while standing up and talking to people/ on the phone, wanting to have phone calls while driving or walking, etc.

The Research:

I’ve learned so much about what happens in our bodies when we multitask from one of my teachers and mentors Laura Hames Franklin. I’ve been working with her for about a year and a half, and being in her realm of awareness and gaining knowledge from her has been invaluable.

The main thing I want to share about this (and part of what prompted this experiment) was connecting what happens physiologically in our bodies when we are focusing on one thing compared to multiple things.

We’re going to get a little science-y here, so hang in there!

  1. There are about 10 pints of blood in the human body. While the equivalent in pints at the pub might knock me out, in reality that isn’t a ton of liquid given everything our blood cells do.
  2. Blood carries nutrients and supports the organs in their jobs. When you eat, for example, your blood will go to your stomach, and move into your intestines, as well as support your liver and pancreas in absorbing and using nutrients.

When you are, say, watching television or checking Facebook, your blood is going to your brain to help you process and absorb information, to your eyes to help you see, to your nervous system, etc.

When we do one thing at a time, there is plenty of blood to help support the full functionality of the parts of our bodies needed.

 

But when we do multiple things, like check Facebook and watch tv while eating (you know you’ve done it), suddenly your blood is dividing itself between a lot more organs and functions and processes, and it’s a lot harder on your body to be able to perform any of its roles effectively. Information has a harder time being absorbed, and digestion may turn into indigestion pretty quickly when your blood is divided in focus.

Since our main mode of operation in society these days is to do all the things all at once, we are constantly taxing our bodies and becoming increasingly less effective at everything we do.

Can I get a resounding, “Not Cool”?!

This places your body in a constant state of playing catch up, and never really bring able to be still. And stillness is where the magic happens.

Because freedom and truth and choosing your experience doesn’t come from multitasking. Confidence and sass and spontaneity don’t come from distractions. We don’t create wild, free, and connected lives by sitting by ourselves at our laptops.

The magic arrives through presence, through tuning in, through canceling all the chatter and actually BEING, moment by moment.

This is something I both KNEW and got to experience at a whole new level over the past 10 days.

The Results:

Days 1-3:

Definitely the most challenging. I realized how much even within my morning routine I try and multitask. Even though the whole thing is designed to get me present. Amazing- I would be oil pulling while doing joint mobility exercises and listening to a meditation on YouTube. It was kind of hilarious- like, how many new age looking things can I do at once?

I think it was on day 2 that I was eating lunch and I reached for my phone 9 times. In a span of about 10 minutes. It was interesting to observe those impulses, as well so to notice I wanted to judge myself for it.
Days 4-8:

Started to relax into the process. I asked myself the question, “how can I look at my to do list as a tool that supports me?” The answer? Pick an item like I pick tarot cards. Run my fingers over the list and when I feel the energy pick up, do the item underneath my fingers. Don’t think about the rest of them. Repeat.

Noticed it was getting slightly frustrating to have to go on my computer to respond to quick emails and messages. There is a beauty in the ease of portable communication! Felt the urges less and less to check Facebook and Instagram.

I was guilty of opening chrome on my phone and logging in that way a couple times.
That reminded me why apps like self control have never worked for me- if I really want to check something, I’m going to figure out a way to do it.

 

Days 9-10:

A lot more spaciousness. I feel like I was way less busy and yet s accomplishing more. Woke up at 5:30 on day 9 without my alarm, wide awake and ready to play. I missed that feeling, and it felt so juicy and yummy to experience it again!

Overall Results:

  • My shoulder tension all but disappeared.
  • I’ve eaten way less food than I normally do and I’m pretty sure it’s from being fully present at every meal and being aware of my hunger levels.
  • The desire to move my body was full on. I spent a lot more time in motion and connecting to my body.
  • I unsubscribed from about 40 email lists and turned off notifications on a bunch of stuff from Facebook. When I only check in a few times a day, it feels a lot more like clutter and noise than actual useful information.
  • With more space I naturally started craving writing and drawing time again. and without all the distractions, I had some space to do that!
  • My body feels grounded and present. A lot of inspiration is flowing inside me. (Get ready for awesomeness).

Did this “fix” everything?
Of course not.

And it was a very fascinating study of myself, my patterns, and where I really spend my time.

When I could ONLY watch Netflix and not also work at the same time, I watched a lot less Netflix. And that’s just one example.

Food tastes better.

I didn’t need to sleep as much.

And best of all- I feel like ME.

Truly y’all, this is important. Single tasking sounds so simple, and a little crazy in the world we live in, but honestly, the difference it has been making is unreal.

If this speaks to you, I encourage you to set up your own mini experiment. Maybe it’s 3 days, maybe it looks different- check in on what may feel good for you. Remember everything is possible with presence ūüôā

And if you want some guidance in styling your own experiment, hit me up. For real, let’s hop on the phone and create some magic together.