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Many studies back her up in this, and it’s a frequent subject of time management and productivity articles like this one: “10 Ways to Multitask Better,” which is really about how to not multitask.
When we try to do several things at once, we just wind up doing them all poorly and taking more time than if we had done each in turn. Now, this does not stop me from tossing a load of clothes in the dryer before I sit down to write this. But instead of jumping up in the middle of my writing to see if the shirts are ready to hang, I will finish this first. Then I will get the shirts from the dryer and hope I don’t have to iron them.
Moving other things to the back burner -- especially if you’ve written them down so as not to forget -- lets you focus on the one thing that needs doing right now. And focus improves results.
Spend the last half-hour before bedtime doing something relaxing.
The counselor pinpointed my insomnia as the result of going full tilt until well after the last minute. Work a day job, come home, wash a load of clothes, cook the dinner, pay the bills, edit something, put a load of clothes in the dryer, write write write until my husband says “isn’t it bedtime?” and then remember the laundry and go hang it up.
Then I would go to bed with all the undone items on my to-do list banging around in my head, and wonder why I couldn’t sleep.
My counselor advised taking a half-hour to wind down. Have a cup of tea, read a book, knit -- OK, she didn’t say knit, but that’s what I do. It relaxes me. To make myself feel better about it, I include my knitting projects on my to-do list.
Some people call this building in margin. I call it Rest. Just as we need a Sabbath day once a week, I think we need some Sabbath time at the beginning and end of each day to Be Still. It has made my life slightly less stressful, and improved my sleep tremendously.
The third thing I learned from her: It’s not a disaster if the laundry doesn’t get done.