Single Tasking or Multi Tasking? Just Don't Forget to Task!

Single-Tasking or Multi-Tasking? Just Don’t Forget to Task!

I love a good productivity read. Whether it’s a book or a blog, I’m there.

5 tips for a better morning routine. Yep.

5 tips to stop you checking your phone every 10 seconds. Click.

10 things all those people you want to be do before 5am. Check.

I know that it is click bait, but I can’t help it, I’ll click every time.

I don’t know what it is. I think I know myself pretty well, I think I’m self aware. I know that I can’t spring out of bed every morning at 5am and write for an hour before the rest of my house wakes up. I can squeeze in some frantic typing if my partner does bedtime stories, so that’s extra time picked up every few days for writing.

But when I see those few words, the optimistic idea that I could read one article and become this amazing version of myself that gets everything done and more, I can’t help but click.

Recently though, I’ve had a productivity break through and it goes something like this: do stuff.

That’s it. Do stuff.

It doesn’t matter if you are single tasking or multi-tasking. It doesn’t matter what you focus on. It doesn’t matter if you have every single one of the notifications on your laptop or your phone switched on or off. It doesn’t matter if you are listening to Bach, heavy metal or the sound of the kettle boiling.

What matters is that you are doing something.

This is the focus that I’ve lost. I’ve become so worried about what I need to be doing that I’ve lost the ability to do as much of it as I used to. Which further feeds into the worry that I’ll never get it all done. Which further gives me the ridiculous idea that reading all these productivity articles is a way to achieve what I was actually doing before my mindset starting to trip me up: doing stuff.

Yes, of course, once you are fantastically busy doing actual stuff there are many ways to become more productive. Deep work is a great idea. I remain convinced that no novels are written in the 10 minutes between tweets and Instagram stories.

No amount of Pomodoro Timers can distract from the fact that you aren’t actually doing anything. They can only keep you focused if you are actually doing a task.

So, in order to get over this, and hopefully do it as quickly as possible before my to do list gets way out of hand, I’m back to tasking. Just simple, good old, doing stuff. By any means possible. The productivity advice can wait until I’ve ticked some things off the list.

What’s that? 10 tips for focusing while you’re cat is sitting next to you on the table making eyes that say ‘why haven’t you fed me today?’ Well, go on then… maybe just for 5 minutes… click…

This Girl Can? How About This Woman Can?

This Girl Can? How About #thiswomancan?

Listening to the radio this morning I heard a segment about the #thisgirlcan campaign run by Sport England. This campaign has been running for a while now. It is reaching out to women and encouraging them to be more active. Research showed that one of the main reasons that women don’t exercise is that they are worried about judgement and how they look when they do. This campaign aims to combat that and make women feel that they should take part, not worry about the reasons why they might not want to.

It got me thinking about the piece that I first wrote about this campaign when it launched. I scrolled back through the mists of my Medium account and found what I had written. It seems a good time to revisit those words and I’ve included the original post here with a few edits.

I don’t like it when I see blogs or articles written online which criticise. I’m not a big fan of the negative. Mainly just because I don’t believe that there is much in this world that is totally and utterly negative and so for all that stuff in the middle that is just a bit ‘not OK’ maybe we could all exercise some balance?

This is one of the reasons that I don’t tend to write anything about things that I don’t like myself. I think ‘well it’s not my cup of tea, but I’m sure it speaks to someone else.’ Yet there is one thing that has been going around and around in my mind recently and now I want to write about it.

I’m a runner. I’m a woman. And, on the whole, I really like the #thisgirlcan campaign run by Sport England.

Their message is simple: ‘This Girl Can celebrates the women who are doing their thing no matter how they do it.’

And it is a great message. There are so many new runners that come along to our club who think from the start that they aren’t fast enough, can’t run far enough, don’t know what they are doing. When they ask questions about how to ‘become a runner’ I just say — you are a runner.

So where does the message fall down for me? The use of the word ‘girl’. This girl can? Does that apply to me? Not really. I have two kids, I’ve been running since I went to university. When I compete in races I am in the VF35 age category — Veteran Female. Not girl.

The campaign is aimed at girls and women from 14-60. It isn’t just aimed at girls, it is aimed at adults.

I want women to join up for sports, to go out and find something they love doing and ‘just do it.’ Why do we have to do this at the expense of acknowledging that on the one hand we know what we are doing   but on the other hand we are all ‘girls’?

Much of the campaign focuses on women who take their sport seriously, as well as beginners. I can’t help but feel that using the word ‘girl’ to describe grown women who are taking their sport to the next level is somehow diminishing that.

It would just take one more letter on that hashtag. #thiswomancan Why don’t we show girls these women as role models that they can look up to and aspire to be? Aspire to be the person who decides to try kickboxing for the first time, or who is running their 100th marathon? Wouldn’t this be such a great message?  Hey girls, look at these women!

I know a lot of people will say it is just one word. Friends of mine have said this to me. I agree, it is just one word, but it is one word that I’ve not used to describe myself for a long time.

So yes, I’m all in for taking part in sport but for me I’d rather own my age, and my identity as as woman in sport, at the same time as owning my sport.

Reducing My Screen Time - The Lightbulb Moment.

Reducing My Screen Time  —  The Lightbulb Moment

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my use of social media. On a quest to reduce my screen time I was reminded of the words of a wise friend of mine. She said that since she’d had kids her social interaction had gone down but her social media use had soared.

‘I used to spend all my time with my friends, now I just spend all that time on Facebook.’

I think it’s a common problem whether or not you have kids. Screen time can creep into your life and quickly get out of control. Now that we have smartphones that can do so much, there is a temptation, and actually sometimes a benefit, to using them for a range of tasks. If you aren’t desk-based all day then a smartphone is an easy way to achieve a range of things away from your laptop. I tried to think about all the things I do on my phone: email, social media, checking the weather, directions, web browsing, managing ebay and PayPal, managing my bank account. It really left me wondering if I could reduce my screen time at all.

I found myself spending a toxic amount of time on social media, mostly Facebook and Twitter. I use the word toxic because it actually felt that way. I’d go onto a channel to have a quick look at something, and would still be sat there 20 minutes later, scrolling through newsfeeds telling me things I had little interest in. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of social media. I work in social media. Getting lost in the warren of Twitter, where I start reading about one thing and end up finding 5 new people to follow, is great but that just wasn’t my daily reality anymore.

Then I read this article on Medium giving a teen’s view of life online. A few things mentioned really rang true for me. I’ve long felt uncomfortable about the amount of advertising on Facebook with sponsored links etc. and to hear someone else say that they keep mainly to the groups for that sole reason made me think — yes! I liked the insights into identity online, I really get Tumblr a lot more since reading this article and find more and more joy there with every visit.

It gave me a starting point and I was soon thinking about other aspects of social media and how I use it. And, of course, I signed up to Medium. I found this by someone who had left social media behind and felt the benefits. One thing that stood out was the phrase ‘does this bring you joy?’ — if it doesn’t then get rid of it.

Suddenly I had a lightbulb moment and since then my social media habit has been pretty much cured. By asking myself every time I try and check a feed or an article whether I really want to do this, I’ve pretty much reduced my social media time to a fraction of what it was. And I do now just check Facebook to see what happened in groups that I’m a member of! Like Helena Price I find myself checking my phone, clicking on an app and then just switching it off again. It’s like a habit I can’t quite break until I’ve clicked and then remembered — oh yes, no joy here.

Whilst this has reduced my screen time overall I am also using the time on other bits of the screen. I think before I read articles. When I started thinking about screen time, I just regarded all screen time as equal — equally good or bad — without really questioning it. Now I’ve realised there’s toxic screen time, where I’m just looking at a random social media feed for no clear reason, and screen time that I’m really starting to enjoy.

I’ve come back to the idea of quality in what I read, in seeking out trusted sources of interesting and informative articles to read and enjoy in a quiet moment. I’ve gone back to podcasts I used to enjoy and discovered new ones.

And I’ve never had so many ideas for blogs and posts as I’ve had since this started. It’s like the part of my brain that always came up with these things went quiet, dulled with the constant chit chat of mindless social media but now I can’t keep up. In an attempt to really limit my screen time I’ve taken to scribbling down my thoughts on a notepad. I’ve filled pages in the last week, who knows when I’ll get to put it all down online somewhere. By trying to limit my own screen time I wonder if I will actually (hopefully) be increasing someone else’s as my writing continues to improve.