Could we change our attitude, we should not only see life differently, but life itself would come to be different. ~ Katherine Mansfield

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Honoring the task at hand.

Multi-tasking is one of the biggest fallacies of the modern age, and I fall prey to it on a daily basis. If I am watching a movie, I am also picking up toys, paying bills or checking email. During dinner, I am up clearing plates and putting away condiments before my family has actually finished eating. Instead of enjoying a hot shower for what it is – a treasured moment of solitude – I spoil it by starting a list in my head of all of the things that need to be accomplished over the next hours, days, weeks. This minute, I am rocking the baby with my foot, writing this entry, and watching an episode of Chopped.


What is this compulsion to split focus and add an element of stress and mania to everything I do? Why can’t I enjoy a quiet moment of rest without inflicting a To Do list on it? I thought that leaving a full-time job would cure me, but I just find other ways to invite the albatross of “so much to do, so little time” into my home. I am addicted to this madness.

Stepping back and viewing myself objectively, I have come to the obvious conclusion that I am doing myself a disservice. Right now, it took me almost a full minute to come up with the word “objectively” because I am not giving this entry my full attention. I don’t know what the contestants on Chopped had in their mystery baskets this round of competition. Aidan is looking at me, and I am looking at a computer. Many things are being done simultaneously, but not one thing is being done well. I feel stressed and out of balance. And if you ask me in a few hours what I accomplished today, I won’t be able to remember. The details of my days are being sacrificed.

So here is the plan: I challenge myself to do one thing at a time, and to be mindful that activity. I challenge myself to honor the task at hand. Because what is the point of watching a movie if I am going to reduce it to background noise by making a grocery list at the same time? If I merely scan an email and send a half-baked reply, am I really doing my job? If I don’t immerse myself in playing pirates with Jude or take the time to memorize the earnest look on Aidan’s face while he nurses, will I one day forget that these things even happened? And if I don’t allow myself moments of peace, time in the day where I am not plagued by actual and imagined “things that need to get done,” am I going to end up in the nuthouse?

This is difficult for me but I need to remember that stress does not equal importance, and accomplishment cannot be gauged by a To Do list. I am going to kick things off by shutting down the computer. I am going to pick up Aidan, put down the mantle of multitasking, and watch my baby sleep.

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