Small Space. Big Life.

Singletasking with a vengeance

One of the things I love most about being a stay-at-home parent is that our home life (re: my life) is normally relaxed and fairly leisurely, with little that has to be done RIGHT NOW. Except for snacks and meals, of course.

And laundry.

And feeding the animals. I mean, if they don’t eat RIGHT NOW they’ll starve. It’s pitiful.

But in general, things here at HouseMojo are pretty chill.

So here I have to go and upset the apple cart. Ten days ago I met an acquaintance and over tea and pastries we got carried away and…. started a business together.

It’s a part-time business and because the three of us (my acquaintance brought another partner to the table) are parents, it’s a family-friendly one. But still, it’s a business, and we have to do business-like things like:

  • Choose a name (which is harder than naming a baby! You don’t have to check the domain registries for a baby’s name, though lots of my friends are telling me they are doing this now, which I think is crazy if they’re telling the truth).
  • Line up clients. This is happening faster than we anticipated, which is a good thing so long as we can schedule them all.
  • Decide on a legal structure, which is not happening yet and really needs to, because I pull in our first paycheck next Thursday. (See, I told you this was happening fast).
  • Set up the books (see previous point).

Plus, I take classes at the city college for kicks (I know, weird) and as it’s getting near the end of the school year it’s getting…. busy.

Add in Little League, volunteering with the PTA and our HOA and oh, yeah, spending time with my spouse and it’s getting a little bit nutsy. Which, I realize, is what other people deal with all the time, but it’s a new thing for me.

My approach to dealing with it: Singletasking with a vengeance.

Multitasking doesn’t work for me. It doesn’t work for most people. We waste time when we switch between tasks; it takes time for our brain to adjust to the new challenge in front of it. When we multitask, we’re unable to give each task our full and undivided attention (because, by definition, we’re doing multiple things at once), so each task suffers, even if just a little bit. And I find that when I’m multitasking I tend to forget something or cut corners in order to get everything done, when what I really need to do is to get the one thing done (and done well, so it doesn’t have to be re-done) so that I can move on to something else.

I think of singletasking the way I imagine an air traffic controller might think about airplanes — you don’t have just one airplane to deal with, you have a bunch (depending on the day). But they take-off and land one at a time, not all at once.

So now that I’m crazy-busy, I’m singletasking like mad. I’m focusing on each task, completing it (or at least moving it down the path it needs to move down until I reach a logical stopping point) and then moving to the next task — one at a time. I don’t have time to waste being distracted by switching tasks, and because I spend a few minutes each morning organizing my day and writing it down (a post on that later), I don’t have to think about what to do next when I’m moving through my day. I’ve already taken care of it.

The result? The really important stuff not only gets done, it gets done well because I’m dedicating time and attention to it. The less-important stuff waits its turn, back there in line with the laundry and starving cats.

Starving, I tell you.

Singletasking isn’t making my days less busy, but it is making them more productive and less distracted. And that helps me keep my mojo. Try it sometime. You might like it, too.


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