Sometime in between the arrival of Yahoo Instant Messaging and my 11th grade statistics class, where I taught myself to write notes to Meg while looking intently at the instructor, multi-tasking developed from a skill into a way of life. Americans have always prided themselves on efficiency, so the prospect of getting more than one thing done at once is deeply attractive to us. As a stressed out high-school student with GPA-worries, musical rehearsal, basketball practice, and crushes on boys, the ability to do three things while thinking about seven other things was essential to surviving those harrowing years.
Lately, though, I’m starting to think that this is getting out of hand.
For example, my laptop is usually out and open on the kitchen table, so that on my way from the sink to the stove, I can see instantly if someone emailed, messaged, facebooked or commented on my blog (I LOVE THE COMMENTS!). Rarely does my browser contain only one tab. On my days home with Sam, you can often find me juggling a book, a cup of tea, a laundry basket and a water bottle (gotta stay hydrated) while attempting to pacify the baby at the same time. I’ve been known to answer the door while in the middle of a skype conversation and to make a phone call while changing Sam’s diaper (a distraction which he protested in the messiest of ways). As a result, my mind is rarely on what I’m doing. Plus, it’s impossible to get things DONE.
This is not efficiency. This isn’t even respectful. What’s worse, I’ve realized that I’m putting Sam in a situation wherein he must compete with my cell phone for my full attention. (Maybe that’s why he keeps trying to eat it when I’m not looking…) No baby, no BODY, should have to fight that battle.
So, today I begin an experiment: the One Thing At A Time Challenge. I’m going to resist the urge to do multiple tasks at once and will try to focus on one. thing. at. a. time. Obviously, this challenge allows for things like emptying the dishwasher while the water boils and having story time simultaneously with the running of the washing machine. Automated tasks don’t count.
I’ll let you know how it goes. At the moment, the only other tab open besides WordPress is my email, and that’s progress!