Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Distracted Living

I realized yesterday that I have been engaged in "Distracted Living." It's what happens when you're trying to do too many things at once. We talk about multi-tasking. We joke about the fact that men cannot or will not multi-task. My friends and I say it with disdain, with annoyance, with a superior tone. Because, us moms, we can do it all and those dads.....

But I remember reading studies that multi-tasking wasn't truly efficient unless you're doing two rote and very cognitively simple tasks. Technically we're not multi-tasking we're "switch-tasking"-switching between two tasks which means we're losing accuracy and efficiency by going back and forth. It really does take time for our brains to go back and forth to perform the two tasks. Google it.

It really hit home for me yesterday when I was switching laundry from the washer to the dryer. (Totally rote and cognitively simple task, by the way.) I realized as I was sitting down to write here for the first time in a week that I should put the wash in the dryer. I logged on and then I went down to put the laundry in the dryer. I opened the dryer and realized there was a dry load waiting for me. I put it in the basket, and put the wet clothes in the dryer. Then I started the washer, added soap and put in a load of clothes; all the while thinking about what I was going to write. Not until I got to the top of the stairs did it hit me....I was washing the clothes I had just removed from the dryer. Duh! What a ditz! A waste of water, power, soap and my time..because with 6 kids I do a lot of laundry and now I was doing an extra load! All because I was going through the motions and not thinking about what I was doing. I was distracted.

This time the distraction wasn't harming anyone. I could have even saved my pride and not told anyone. Instead, I'm sharing my distracted self with anyone who happens to read this. It's altruistic of me, really. Think of all the ways we go through life distracted. We know the risks of texting or using our cell-phones while driving. But there are lots of ways that walking through life distracted, trying to do too many things at once, can be hurtful if not harmful and let's not forget about efficiency, accuracy or even common courtesy.

I am also guilty of half-listening to the Husband or the kids while I'm doing something else. The Husband will call me on it. I get annoyed, mostly because it's shaming to realize I am not giving my full attention to the very same people I would sacrifice everything for. So how about if I sacrificed the multi-tasking to be fully-present and in-tune to the things I'm doing?

I'm going to work on this one. Really. I think it's part of living intentionally. I don't want to go through life doing things half-way (or twice..those are some very clean clothes) because I was too distracted to be fully present in both mind and body.

I pray that we can find ways to be productive and present; fully living in the moment instead of thinking four steps ahead. I am fairly certain life will be more joyful if we can do it.

Down with Distracted Living! Up with Living Fully!


1 comment:

  1. I can't multi-task. Actually I call it half-@ssing, because then BOTH things I'm doing get done half-@ss instead of right. I mean, I can do more than one thing at a time, but I try to finish a task before I start another one, if you get my meaning? I can have a canner full of green beans and do something else while they are doin' their thing (such as sit in front of the stove knitting) but I cannot focus on more than one big thing at a time! I say all the time, I don't know how working mom's do it, because if I had to focus on a "job" as well as my family, they'd both suffer! ;0)