Living in the Moment
Since there is never enough time in a day to get everything done, I usually find myself multi-tasking. If I need to be on a phone call, I walk around watering the plants at the same time. While Maya plays in the bathtub for 40 minutes every night, I hang up my clothes and organize my closet (my closet can never be too organized). When I embark on the daily “hair versus the blow dryer” match, I read a book. I always considered myself pretty accomplished at multi-tasking, but I recently came to the startling conclusion that I can do more than two things at once!
For example, I can watch TV, work on my computer, and have Maya “do my hair” at the same time. (Maya pulling on my hair can get painful at times, but it’s nothing compared to the pain of giving The Bachelor my full attention). This realization was such a revelation for me that I am now kicking myself for losing countless minutes of my life because I didn’t multi-task to my fullest ability.
Last week I decided to triple-task – I walked to pick up some groceries while reading at the same time. As a member of Real Women Talking, I give my opinions on magazines, ads, and more for the various Meredith Corporation’s magazines (Fitness, Family Circle, Parents, etc.), and so I brought the latest issue of Ladies’ Home Journal to read through. As I struggled to juggle my grocery bags, my frenetic pace, and the magazine, I ironically stumbled upon an article entitled, “Life is Good…Don’t Miss It.”
The author, Catherine Newman, talks about how so many of us rush from one task to the next so we can cross things off our To-Do list, but as the days go by we are never really mindful of the present moment which is when our life is actually happening. I can so relate to this! When I’m in the middle of eating dinner I’m already calculating how long it will take me to clean up the kitchen. When I’m playing Candy Land with Maya I am often thinking multiple thoughts, including (but not limited to):
1. How much longer do I have to play this interminable game?
2. What am I going to make Maya for lunch tomorrow?
3. And the next day?
4. I really need to go to the gym.
5. If Maya bangs the game board one more time I am going to lose it.
According to the article, “Recent studies show that for some, mindfulness can be as effective as medication in dealing with depression and anxiety.” Somehow I don’t think that focusing on Candy Land is going to be effective in dealing with anxiety since zoning out is the only thing that gets me through the game.
The article goes on to mention ways to improve ones mindfulness: be in the present, engage fully, slow down, take a deep breath, etc., etc., etc. I’ve heard it all before, so much of what the article mentions is nothing new to me. I know I should be fully present when I play board games with Maya but I don’t even think Mother Teresa would have had the patience for that.
One thing that did strike a chord,however, was the point on getting more done by doing less. “Multitasking doesn’t make anything go faster, but it can make things more confusing. Science suggests that your brain is actually alternating between two things rather than paying attention to either.” Hmmm. Could that be the reason why I sometimes put the egg carton in the freezer instead of the fridge? Or send a text to my brother instead of Ali?
I know that I do too many things at once and I know it stresses me out. But so does not going to the gym, or not knowing whats going on in the news, or not having anything planned for dinner. So is it really a crime to watch the news and contemplate dinner while I’m on the treadmill? According to this article yes. But until somebody can find me 5 extra hours in the day and someone with the patience of a saint to step in to play a game with Maya, my triple-tasking will continue.
What are your thoughts on multi-tasking?