Living in 21st century-wired weird world, you can not live without multitasking. Just try to organize yourself to do only one thing at a time, by afternoon, your day will start going awry. There are opinions that multi tasking is not good for health and it causes attention deficit, induces panic etc. But there is surely a healthy Ayurveda way of doing many things at a time, without losing your mind.
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Ayurveda concept of mind
As per Ayurveda, there are two characteristics of mind.
1. Anutwa – Minuteness – Mind is minute and moves fast to link with different sense organs, hands and legs.
2. Ekatwa – Single – Mind is only one.
I will be discussing the nature of mind in detail in future, but here’s a short explanation ahead of our topic of the day – how to multitask.
Mind is the co-ordinator between sense organs and intellect.
Mind and intellect should be in unison for
- Knowledge in flow (sensory – In ward flow of message from external world to brain) and
- Action (Motor – outward flow of message from brain to the sense organs, hands and legs, to take action)
When mind connects between eyes and intellect, we see and perceive things.
When mind connects between ears and intellect, we hear and understand things.
When mind connects intellect with our hands, we can write, what we want to express.
Allow me to call the above type of three actions, where mind’s full presence is required, as Full mindful actions.
Full mindful actions are those, where we can not do anything without full involvement of mind. For example, if mind does not connect between eyes and intellect, we may be looking at an object, but we can not perceive it. We may be hearing, but we can not understand things. We may be writing, but we can not write to express our ideas.
However, each and every action of ours, may not require our mind’s full participation. I will call such works as Semi mindful actions.
Semi-mindful actions – There are some works for which, continuous connection of organs with intellect is not required.
For example walking. Mind decides where to go and where to stop. It hands over the responsibility to legs. Leg will take care of walking, while mind may indulge in, say, listening to something.
This is why, you can consciously listen to what your friend is talking about, while you are walking. Note that here, though mind is presently connecting ears to intellect, it has assigned the walking job to legs, and that job is going on smoothly.
Apart from working with sense organs, hands and legs, mind also does thinking, planning, guessing, analyzing etc, on its own.
So, with this elaborate background, let us come back to multi-tasking.
How to multitask?
How to multitask like a pro?
Because mind is only one, you simply can not take up two full-mindful-actions at the same time.
For example, you can not drive and answer a phone call at the same time. It causes accidents. Because, driving is a full mindful action, there are lot of decisions to make each and every second, and listening, thinking and talking over the phone, is again another full mindful job. So, no two full-mindful jobs at the same time.
But you can surely combine one semi-mindful action and one full mindful action. You can do these two types of actions at one time.
For example, you can surely drive, while you’re listening to music. Can’t you? Driving is a full mindful action, but listening to music is only a semi-mindful job. You’re not totally into the music. It just runs in the background and you only feel the enjoyment, without bothering much about what the lyrics is all about and so on.
So, follow this simple principle and pick only two tasks at a time, one – full mindful, and another – semi mindful and enjoy multi-tasking.
Examples for good multitasking
1. Putting clothes in the washing machine, and cooking. Once you put clothes for washing, your mind is not required there. It is a semi mindful action. You can continue cooking, which is a full mindful action.
2. Downloading a big size software, typing an email. – Once you hit the download button and assign a disc space in your laptop, you’re free till the download is complete. Use that time to type, browse, drink a cup of coffee etc.
3. Jogging and listening to a self-help podcast. Jogging requires only your semi mind. You can utilize that full attention of your mind to listen to podcast related to your favorite topic.
4. Reading a document, while enjoying a cup of herbal tea. You can surely do both things together, unless you end up spilling tea over your important document.
Examples of bad multi tasking
1. Driving and talking over the phone. They simply can not co-exist. A recent research says even a walking and texting makes you distracted and prone for accidents.
2. Students doing homework while watching TV. TV, being more interesting and engaging, will drag the mind into it, harming the progress of your homework.
3. Eating and texting / talking over the phone. As per Ayurvedic eating etiquette, eating should be your full mindful job. You should concentrate on quality and quantity of stuff, going into your mouth. Talking over the phone, being a more active job, is a full mindful job and will take away concentration from your plate.
Basic pre-requisites for successful multi-tasking
A perfect plan –If you do not plan the tasks ahead, you will not be able to achieve a healthy mix of semi and full mindful jobs. It is better to plan early in the morning, or just before going to sleep.
Measurement of time – As your experience grows, you should have a clear picture regarding, precisely how much time is required to complete one task.
Example: By the time the machine finishes washing, in 50 minutes, let me complete cooking, which also requires 50 minutes.
Write it down – Writing down the future tasks as and when you think of one, is a very healthy habit. You can even use your mobile to make a note for planning your day.
So use these techniques and become a champion of multi-tasking without losing your mind.