General

The Mellow Multitasker

When I think of multitasking, I usually don’t equate it with being mellow. In fact, to me, multitasking looks a bit like this:

Pictured: a crudely drawn octopus eating a sandwich, writing an essay, knitting a scarf, reading a book, sweeping the floor, and wearing a top hat

I apologize for my terrible drawing skills, but in my defence, I drew this self-portrait while eating a sandwich, writing an essay, knitting a scarf, reading a book, sweeping the floor, imagining what I would look like as an octopus, and seriously working a top hat.

I kid, I’m not actually a busy octopus—I actually just draw that badly—but multitasking feels like that to me. It isn’t something I enjoy. It’s a strategy that I feel I need to use in order to stay on top of everything.

…Or so I thought.

It turns out that when I started reconceptualizing what I deemed to be important tasks, multitasking became a lot more rewarding and a lot less stressful.

Instead of only prioritizing the things in life that seem concrete, measurable, and tangible—things you saw in my drawing like cleaning, eating, and studying—I started to prioritize something that I couldn’t see. I started to think of my mental wellbeing as a goal of the highest order; I made a promise to myself to never forget that my mental wellness is just as important as my physical self-preservation and my goal of achieving success.

Just like any other goal, mental wellbeing has tasks that you can pursue in order to achieve it. Personally, my anxiety and unhappiness usually come from not being active, not being informed, not having fun, and not feeling centered. Working out, watching the news, spending time with friends, and meditating would be my primary tasks for achieving these ends, thereby fulfilling my goal of mental wellbeing.

The problem before I reconceptualized my priorities was that the time I spent on these activities felt like time taken away from my studies and my physical necessities. Doing these things made me feel guilty; I felt like I was wasting my own time.

By putting mental wellbeing in its rightful place as a top priority, I was able to validate my time spent on these various activities and the guilt was gone. Instead of only feeling productive when I complete an assignment, clean the dishes, finish a meal, etc. I feel productive when I do things that make me happy.

When I do something aimed at my mental wellness, I feel fulfilled. So you can only imagine how amazing it felt to enter these newfound important tasks into the multitasking equation. I can do a leg workout while I do a reading. I can listen to political podcasts while I clean my apartment. I can practice mindful eating in order to center myself (check out Danielle’s post on mindful moments for more info). In all these instances, I feel double the satisfaction that I used to feel because I am looking out for my academics, my physical self, and my mental wellbeing, all at the same time! Like a superhero!

Pictured: superhero octopus wearing a top hat and cape

The Octo-Tasker! Fighting feelings of self-doubt and anxiety using his special powers (multitasking and looking dapper in hats).

In honour of Mental Wellness Month, I’d like to remind you that taking care of yourself is of paramount importance. Even when you’re not multi-tasking in the way I just mentioned—you’re taking a break just to chat with friends for a while, for instance—you’re still multi-tasking! That’s because being happy makes everything else feel a little bit more manageable, which in turn makes everything run smoother.