A word that has plagued me over the last few years is efficiency… and not just efficiency, but productivity. I’ve started to count my worth not in valuable moments or even my general presence- but my worth has been defined by how much I can do as quickly as possible. How profitable am I in executing multiple tasks in the shortest amount of time possible? THIS has become my value prop, and THIS is what has been killing me. It has starved me of Self worth and deepening my relationships with my Self and those I love- it ends today with one simple practice: do one thing at a time.
Perhaps it is a symptom of my living under the illusion that my reality is everyone’s reality, but I seem to see this trend in so many of my friends. This meme actually made me laugh and cry all at the same time:
Between waking up at 5am to drink lemon/cayenne water while putting homemade oatmeal scrub on my face AND exfoliate with sea crystals from Atlantis DURING my 20 minute meditation WHILST practicing Ashtanga yoga and THEN reading 35 pages (via Audible) since I ALSO need to write a QBR presentation for my CEO all through my casual Periscope of my #ootd and my high level overview of how epic my day will be to then get off of work by 5pm to hit up drinks with my squad, go to the hottest spin/ barre class in town, and then of course catch up on the latest season of WHATEVER on Netflix… I JUST FEEL LIKE THERE IS NOT ENOUGH TIME, ENERGY or SANITY to do it all!!!!! And the fact is, there isn’t. One of my heroines, Sheryl Sandburg says,
you can have it all, just not all at once
That’s SO. DAMN. TRUE. I CAN have great skin AND a yoga practice AND a career AND great friendships (plus a deep relationship with Netflix) but I have to have each of them in their own time. They cannot all be created and dominated all at once. It takes one action, one thought, one carefully executed task at a time. This has become my new meditation.
With the taunting of media outlets like Facebook gloating everyone else’s perfect lives and seemingly flawless ability to “have it all”, the societal pressure of having my cake and eating it too seems so overwhelming. This, I believe, has led myself and so many others into the lusty and dangerous arms of efficiency and productivity. If I’m productive and efficient, I’ll be better. I’ll be richer. I’ll be skinnier. I’ll be happier. And if I’m all of those things, I’ll be more loved by everyone around me. THAT is where I believe efficiency and productivity stem from, and that is where the tragedy and danger lurk.
If you’re reading this, I bet there is a part of you that wants to connect with your Self. The deepest part of you. You are soul searching. I see you. And if that is you, know that the pursuit of happiness and Self does not lie within multi- tasking and showing off how much you can accomplish in the shortest amount of time… it lies in the slow churn. In Yoga Sutra 1.32 Patanjali says:
The practice of concentration on a single subject [or the use of one technique] is the best way to prevent the obstacles and their accompaniments.
Swami Satchidananda goes on to say, “The point here is that should not keep changing our object of concentration. When you decide on one thing, stick to it whatever happens. There’s no value in digging shallow wells in a hundred places. Decide on one place and dig deep. Even if you encounter a rock, use dynamite and keep going down. If you love that to dig another well, all the first effort is wasted and there is no proof you won’t hit rock again.”
This exact scenario occurs every time I try to do laundry AND cook dinner at the same time. Inevitably a sock gets dropped in between the dryer or something burns because I am trying to split my attention instead of do one thing impeccably and then move on to the next… So THIS is my new meditation : Do one thing at a time. Right now, I’m starting there. Eventually, I would like to do one thing at a time extremely well… however I am trying to let go my illusions of perfection for now and simply do the task at hand. When I’m folding laundry, I focus only on doing the laundry. I don’t try to bake a pie, change diapers, watch Golden Girls and write a blog all while doing the laundry, I just DO the laundry. Sometimes I even cue my breath with it- inhale lift the corner of the towel, exhale bring the corner to match the opposite corner. The effect is euphoric. The world softly blurs around me and all I focus on is the task at hand-not my incompetencies, what’s left to do or whatever else is lurking in my psyche- just the comforting task of folding laundry.
That sounds dumb right? And an inefficient use of my time, right? Well, it’s not. I’m finding that by being in that moment, focused on that one thing I create clarity, focus and depth. There is a peace that sweeps over me and a sense of not being rushed. Before, when I was trying to do 500 things at one time, I always felt so rushed- which inevitably landed me frustrated, LATE, incomplete, out of touch and coming up short on something.
What I’m also learning from this process is that in order to do one thing at a time, I must surrender the superfluous. I must only do the things I truly need and the extra fluff simply does not get done. It’s made me prioritize what is actually important in my life and let go of the things that used to make me “look good” but not feel good. In doing so, I’ve found that I’m better off with less. I’m more fulfilled with doing the tasks that really need to get done, and letting the others be done by someone else. It’s left me copious amounts of time to truly connect with other people when I’m with them. To look my friends in the eyes and actually listen to what they are saying instead of anticipating my exit strategy so I can get on to the next thing on my to do list. It’s made me relate to others and myself more.
Start small- the next time you are driving- just drive. Don’t turn on the radio, don’t text, don’t instagram- just drive to your destination. Another one to try, the next time you are doing a task, set a timer for as long as you want it to take you. Turn your phone on airplane and do not do ANYTHING else until the timer goes off. You might be blown away just how hard that is…
So as we move into the new moon cycle and 1 of 4 eclipses, take inventory of where you are being efficient and productive in your life and ask yourself if it is effective? Does it get you closer to yourSelf?Ask yourself if it is effective at the level of fulfilling your SOUL… not just your bank account or your # of likes on Instagram. If not, I urge you to purge the excess and start doing one thing meticulously and focused at a time… you may find something beautiful on the other end.
Namaste and good luck!