Traveling and observing people is always interesting to me and inspires a lot of thoughts. Today I was struck by the sense of stress around nearly every person in the Washington, D.C airport. I took a two hour ferry this morning, two bus rides, one plane ride, and by the time I got to Washington maybe I wasn’t stressed simply because I was too tired. I got an over priced salad, sat down on the floor (all the seats were taken) and watched. I watched people run by (this is sometimes necessary in an airport!) I watched so many people talking and texting frantically while at a food counter or searching for their gate. I observed a lot of mutli-tasking. We all know at this point that multi-tasking is not productive, it doesn’t make us feel less stressed and it doesn’t make us do a better job at what we’re trying to get done. Yet, we all are doing it more and more. I do it and I know better. In some circumstances it is necessary to multi task, but often times not. It makes us less present, alert and focused with the people around us or the people we’re communicating with. And, if others are trying to communicate with us it gives them the impression that they are not important enough to get our full attention. We give this message to our loved ones, to our friends and to strangers. It especially occurs in public places like an airport where people are texting or on their phone while ordering a latte or ordering from a waitress. I love when I see signs at counters that say “no cell phones, please”. It should be a no brainer yet still grown adults will walk up to a counter on their phone and try to order while talking to someone else at the same time. Where are people’s manners? Multi tasking contributes to our sense of stress. And stress, I think, is addictive. One reason we continue to create it in our lives when we have the choice is because it makes us feel important. The ego thinks, “I’m so stressed because I have ALL of this to do. I must be very important.” The thing is is that most of the time we’ve created all that we have to do. I know that I put too much on my plate and am not realistic about what can be done and in how much time. I think part of this comes from a need of feeling important and some of it comes from an inability to stay focused. Recently I re-wrote my Mission Statement for my business, First Ray Yoga. Each morning before I start “doing” I read my Mission statement. It plants the seed of what is important in the day as I start returning e-mails, getting to paperwork and teaching. I have also recently written a Mission Statement for my personal life to make sure that I’m just as focused on it as I am on “work”. Unfortunately no matter how focused we are on what is important to us, we’re in an age where we’re being trained and taught to multi task. Its nearly impossible to buy a phone these days that’s just a phone. We’re being sold and taught the notion that we should be driving, texting, facebooking and spending time with the kids all at once. We are then living in this false idea that we can get more done. And, in fact, maybe we’re not supposed to get that much done. Human minds aren’t developing at the rate of the new Droid technology. If we think our brains are supposed to adapt and evolve as fast as technology comes out, we’re really going to stress ourselves out. If we were forced to only be able to do one thing at a time I would bet that we would be much less stressed and much more efficient, focused and productive. With a false idea that we should be able to do 5 things well at the same time, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. Some people will keep it up for quite a while, but most wont. As we strive to do more so that we can be less stressed, we’re creating a never ending cycle that will only get worse. We’ll never feel as if we’re “keeping up” and our quality to attention, a task and people will lesson. Let’s try first to get our priorities straight and spend our time in the day on what is important to us. Then, let’s try more and more to do one thing at a time. How refreshing. How calming! It may make us feel a little uneasy at first as if we’re not being productive. Try to sit with it. What does multi tasking and getting stressed out really do for us? Do we feel better for it or does it simply make us feel like we’re important because we have “so much to do”. Lastly, and I have to laugh as I write this, when we do have “so much to do”, and this is sometimes the case, look at what it is. I often feel like my list is too long. I’m then gently reminded, usually by Tobin, to really look at what is on the list. Its not as if I’m about to prepare to give someone brain surgery, or I’m responsible for the check list to make sure a space shuttle is equipped to land on the moon. My to do list is really not that important. That’s when I remind myself to get over myself. Really. WHAT is THAT important? Some things are. Most things aren’t. Priorities. What are they?
If you made it all the way to the end. Thanks for humoring me and reading.