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Sydney, Australia
My musings and meanderings on childhood - mine juxtaposed with that of my kids'. Everyday incidents and images from our life in Sydney turn my thoughts towards my own wonder years growing up in Bandra, Bombay, India.

08 June 2011

One Task at a Time

If it’s Tuesday evening, it must be yoga class for me. Last night, our teacher explained the concept of “Ekagratha”, Sanskrit for “focusing on one thing”. It took a whole lot of concentration to stop my mind from galloping at its usual 100 miles a minute and live in the moment.

Multi-tasking. It’s something that’s hard-wired into my brain. Take this scenario: yesterday I caught myself answering my phone while picking up the kids’ toys on the floor with my toes while sorting out the laundry into piles of ‘whites’, ‘coloured’ and ‘darks’. Sounds familiar? I suspect it’s what most mums do to survive the daily grind.

C1 is all concentration on the cookies

We’ve deluded ourselves into thinking that we NEED to do a million things a minute in order to be productive, efficient beings. We feel that if we control and schedule every second of our lives, it will be problem-proof. It’s a modern-day malaise. In the words of W.H. Davies:

What is this life if full of care
We have no time to stop and stare?

The irony of it all is that research has proven that we’re better off picking and sticking to one task at a time. Paradoxically, when we multi-task, our productivity actually drops instead of increasing! We interrupt one thing to switch to another, losing time and train of thought in the process. Quantity overrides quality.

So today, I’d decided to do one chore at a time. I refused to sweat the small stuff. I didn’t have to go very far to learn how to enjoy the little things in life; I just had to watch my kids. The way C2 ‘brum-brum-brummed’ his car on our windowsill with single-minded devotion, and the way C1 carefully dotted each cookie we made with Smarties...

Try it with your kids or partner – resist the urge to check your phone or laptop for messages when you’re around them. Give them your undivided attention. Live in the present and enjoy their presence.

What are your views on multi-tasking? How do you cope with the stress and strain of that everyday, modern life brings?


  1. Wasn't it yesterday that we were reading poetry and running around the college canteen? Who knew we'd be in the very same boat with two kids and a million tasks at hand. I just love reading your blog and identify with it completely.

  2. Fabulous Alison, does having a cuppa and reading your blog count as multi-tasking?:)

  3. Hahaha! Reading my blog with a cuppa is highly recommended. Thanks Gaynor! ;)


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