Uh- It Costs How Much?!

confused man Do you know the price of your distractions and mental clutter?

Less than 5 minutes of multitasking last week cost me $44.99 plus tax.   That’s $9 per minute and $540 per hour!  When I thought back to how this happened it was all due to a crazy hectic week and trying to do/ think about too many things at once, you know– multitasking.  I went on autopilot for a very short series of tasks I perform each month while my mind churned away at what was next and I half-way listened to someone on the phone.  Little did I know I’d set myself up to spend an hour trying to find something, which I knew had to be somewhere, only to end up back at the store making a repeat purchase.   I could have prevented this with a few simple steps.

1. Slow down and breathe 

Most tasks are not a timed race.  Slowing down just a bit can help you feel more focused and snap you back into the present. 

2. Get it out 

Grab your notepad and do a brain dump of everything you think you have to do right now.  Then prioritize the list taking into account the true importance of the task along with your time and energy constraints.

3. Single- task

You may have a lot to do but that doesn’t mean you need to do it all at the same time.  Focus on one thing at a time: Do it right, knock it off the list, go on to the next one.

4. Set boundaries for distractions  

In my case I could have let the phone go to voicemail while I finished what I’d already started.  Today work, play, friends, family, communication, devices, etc all mixes together to create ongoing overwhelm and a false sense of urgency.    

Often times we rely on habit to complete the routine things that we do.  We assume that we can still do them even while something else is activity occupying our attention.  We also maintain the expectation that because we’ve had a lot on our minds before and still got things done we can do so now.  Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.  To be most successful, we have to give ourselves a chance to get it right most of the time.  By taking on more than we have to we are often working against our best interest and could end up paying a higher price than we expected.

Do you have an example to share on the cost of your mental clutter?

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