Best Personal Growth Practices: Mindfulness v. Multi-Tasking

For most of us, multi-tasking is not at all an option. Entrepreneurs, it seems to me, are born multi-taskers. Not only do we accept it as a part of life, we demand it.

I’m incapable of sitting on the couch and watching tv. It may occupy my eyes, but it’s mindless. And what do I do with my hands? Same with talking on the phone. It takes one hand, at most. I usually eat dinner while I clean up the kitchen and talk on the phone or to my kids. I enjoy seeing how much I can accomplish at once.

But last night, on the eve of my son’s first birthday, I thought (for the first time in a long time) about the value of mindfulness. We were snuggling on our big comfy chair in the bedroom as I tried to calm him into sleepiness. My other kids were in the room, vowing to be “quiet,” which to a 4 and 2-year-old actually means a “quiet roar.”

I found myself longing to be alone with just my baby. Longing to have all the time in the world to enjoy his smiles and snuggles, his soft skin and tiny fingers. I didn’t want to do anything during my time with  him other than have my time with him.

I often remember something I read in a book by the Zen Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. What should an enlightened person think while washing the dishes he asks? He should think about washing the dishes, of course. I used to do this, before my life got complicated. I would really focus on the act of washing the dishes. I would consciously keep my mind from wandering elsewhere. It was a  surprisingly good feeling.

These days, while I wash the dishes I always have my I-Pod going. I feel like I’m wasting time if I’m not listening to a self improvement or business training program. At the very least, I’m repeating affirmations or practicing visualization.

Ironically, I wonder if I’m not doing a disservice to my personal growth path when I listen to personal growth programs while washing the dishes. Is there personal growth in mindfulness? In being present in the moment? No matter how insignificant that moment might be. Or seem to be.

The answer is yes. Which doesn’t mean I’m advocating or even remotely thinking about giving up multi-tasking. I’m addicted to it. And I believe it often serves me well. I make way more money sitting on the couch watching tv and working on my online business than my fellow man who sits on the couch watching tv with a beer in hand.

But I’m convinced that we need to be more mindful. I’ve heard that you should meditate 30 minutes a day unless you’re really busy. In which case you should meditate 60 minutes. The same principle applies to mindfulness. The more hectic we are, the more we need to be conscious of opportunities to be mindful.

We’ll talk about the ways mindfulness furthers our personal growth path next time.

JENNIFER HERNDON works from home with her kids. She has enjoyed the time freedom and financial benefits of working from home for over 11 years. Jennifer’s passion is empowering you to success through a positive mindset and consistent action. Discover the Seven Simple Success Steps for free in Jennifer’s new mini-course designed to provide you the tools to change your life and find home business success.

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