So Many Hats

Posted On February 9, 2024

Photo by Michele Venne

Sometimes I know why I’m tired at the end of the day. If I went for a long trail ride, had lots of clients, squeezed in errands or life tasks, by ten o’clock I’m done. But sometimes it doesn’t seem like I’ve got that many to-dos on my calendar. When I look back, especially at a week like this one, I understand the feeling of being wrung out.

All of us fill multiply roles in our lives. We often have more than just ourselves to look after. The requirements of adulting can sometimes be overwhelming. But what I noticed, for me, are the number of hats that I switch into and out of on a daily basis.

Years ago, research came out that there is no such thing as multi-tasking, that our brains just switch focus really fast. And when it can’t keep up, we miss things people say or details in our surroundings. On the coattails of this research is that every time we switch tasks, it takes a few minutes to fully focus. For example, if I’m writing a novel and stop to look something up on the web, then decide the check my email, then go back to writing, then stop to check a text on my phone, every beginning and ending of those tasks takes a little time to “switch hats.” That time added up can be hours every week.

I’m aware each time I switch tasks. I could be checking my email, then log in to work with a client, then log off and do an admin task for my writing business, go make lunch, get hay ready for Holly while lunch is heating up, eat while I read a book or check my work email, which means juggling my calendar or asking my supervisor questions, or make notes about other tasks to be done. I know, some days it’s like this and I’m not being very mindful. I’ve realized it’s also days like this that I’m more tired at the end than I usually am.

Is there a way to limit the number of hat switching that happens each day? I think so, but I can’t eliminate it completely. And that’s okay, because I like pretty much everything that I do. Could I be more mindful of changing tasks and be focused on one task at a time? Yes. I’ll see what effect it has when I just work on my novel, then stop to check emails. After that, I could pay attention to the taste of what I’m eating instead of doing one or two other things at the same time. How many times do you switch hats during the day or week? How mindful are you of the single task you’re doing at the moment?

Written by Michele Venne

Writer of immersive and intriguing stories.

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