Mindfulness: Doing One Thing at a Time

These days mindfulness, like minimalism, is a trendy topic. It fits right in with the ideas of intentional living and of limiting oneself to those things that either bring joy or are necessary. In fact, it is even in accord with the popular idea of decluttering.

But what is mindfulness itself? It is bringing our whole minds to what is before us, whether it is something we are doing or something we are experiencing. It is doing things intentionally and attentively. It is putting our entire selves into the events of our lives.

One aspect of being mindful is doing things one at a time rather than multitasking. It may seem strange to say that multitasking is not optimal. After all, we live in an age which glorifies busyness and which prides itself on its ability to perform or complete a number of tasks simultaneously.

However, when we multitask, we are actually shortchanging ourselves and others. We may not realize it, but we are missing or losing something every time we divide our minds among two or more purposes.

Perhaps this is easiest to see when we look at three things we gain from focusing on a single task or object at a time.

1. Tranquility and repose of mind

When we limit ourselves to one thing, we are able to align our thoughts, to focus, and to concentrate. In consequence, our minds are not unduly strained, stressed, or confused, and a certain peacefulness attaches itself to whatever task we are performing or experience we are undergoing.

2. More complete participation

Without distractions, we can give ourselves more fully to whatever is in front of us. In this way, we are able to see, experience, and do things which otherwise we would run the risk of missing.

3. Greater fulfillment

When we participate more completely, we have a richer experience. We get more out of whatever is before us. We feel more fed or completed by what we have seen, heard, or done and more satisfied with our part in it.

But what does limiting ourselves to a single thing look like in real life?

It can mean that when we are on the computer, we don’t flip between tabs but rather stick to one until we have finished with it. It can mean putting our phones away when we are watching a show or having a conversation. It can mean finishing one project before we start another. It can mean lots of things.

Of course, it isn’t always possible to focus on a single task. Sometimes we have to do more than one thing at a time. However, it is a good goal to strive for and an excellent habit to cultivate. Try to consciously implement this practice at least once a day, and see what kind of satisfaction you get from it. Even doing it this frequently will help you to live a richer, more complete life.

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