Why is mindfulness important to food bloggers? With all we have to do — developing and testing recipes, photography, writing, editing, PR and more — it's easy to succumb to the allure of multi-tasking for the sake of efficiency. Yet, as Tiffany Mayer tells us, multi-tasking is a state of distraction where we rarely do things as well as when we're focused and present. Today, Tiffany shares tips from life coach Nicole Aloni to help us become more mindful bloggers.
Some of the best career advice I’ve ever gotten came from a beer commercial.
Maybe you know it. The tagline at the end of every ad for Steam Whistle, a Toronto brewery that makes only Pilsner (and a good one at that), is "Do one thing really, really well."
It’s incredible how that applies to more than just beer; even more than to how we want to define our careers in broad terms. It applies just as much to the nitty-gritty of our day-to-day activities.
Every day, we face no shortage of tasks that need doing, from laundry to our latest blog post. Unfortunately, we exist in a culture that places value on being busy so many of us have been conditioned to believe the only way to get ahead is by multi-tasking.
It’s true, our to-do list might get whittled down by writing a few sentences, stopping to reply to that tweet or email, staging a photo, breaking to make lunch, then writing some more. None of them are likely to be done to the best of our abilities, however.
Instead, we’re working in a constant state of distraction, one without much joy or mindfulness.
“The addiction to being distracted and the mistaken belief that multi-tasking is getting us ahead is a big problem,” says Nicole Aloni, a Seattle-based life coach.
Mindfulness is being fully aware of what’s happening to you internally and externally at any given moment. It means not doing anything on autopilot. It also means not trying to do several things at once.
Aloni, a chef and former food writer, is a big proponent of doing only one thing at a time — and doing it really, really well as a result. She calls it “spaciousness, quiet or calm, or (being) undistracted.”
“We need periods of calm and clear focus,” she says.
Aloni is a master of cutting through it all to get down to what matters, one thing at a time. The reason is simple: those constantly doing, and doing several things at once, are training themselves to be less effective “both as creative people and as human beings.”
Our brains aren’t wired to do several things at once, and we end up working, writing, parenting, or whatever, half as well as if we focused on one task at a time and being truly present when doing it.
“We do not multi-task. We distract… . As much as possible, do that one thing while you do that one thing,” Aloni urges. “In that time, you get between 3 and 10 times the amount of work done, and you get successful work done.”
To help, Aloni plots her days on a productivity planner. Each day, she lists what she’s excited about, what must happen, what she’s grateful for, her long-range projects, and allots a set amount of time to tackle her priorities, tasks, and personal activities. She even sets a timer to help her stick to her plan.
That doesn’t mean her work becomes a race against the clock. Rushing through everything can lead to bad decisions and wasted energy. Instead, this is about slowing down to do each task deliberately, which can actually make us more efficient, productive and happy on the job.
Aloni also sets aside time in the day to take mindful breaks doing something she enjoys. Contrary to what we’ve been programmed to believe, taking a timeout from our work to poke around in the garden, go for a walk just to see the changing leaves, or park ourselves on a bench at the beach for a set amount of time each day is not being lazy. It’s aiding our productivity.
“In order to work effectively, I have to plan effectively to walk on the beach, to practise being mindful,” she says.
For us food bloggers, she suggests doing “unpurposeful, unfocussed writing” done without the goal of penning the next great recipe or landing a plum assignment. In fact, she urges having no expectations for what you’re putting on the page. And do it with a pen and paper, so you can step away from the screen.
The effects, she says, are as rejuvenating and refreshing as going for a walk outside.
There are other simple ways to avoid distraction during our days, including taking breaks from social media. Maybe it’s a day or weekend where we don’t log on to Facebook or worry about posting a photo of dinner. Did anyone really miss anything?
Try setting times to check email, too. Perhaps it’s one of the first tasks you tackle in the morning. Do it for half an hour, uninterrupted, then close out of your email program until a scheduled time later in the day to respond to new messages.
If all else fails, there’s always beer. Just drink it really, really well.
- Entertaining Ennui: The Benefits of Being A Bored Blogger
- Falling (Back) In Love With Your Blog: Finding Time For Your Blog
- 5 Signs You May Be On the Verge of Blogger Burnout
- 7 Tips For Making Time For Your Food Blog
A Blogger's Guide to Mindfulness was written by Tiffany Mayer, a freelance journalist and author of Niagara Food: A Flavourful History of the Peninsula’s Bounty (History Press, 2014). She blogs about food and farming at eatingniagara.com. You can also listen to her newly launched food podcast, Grub.