Monday, September 2, 2013

The Next Big Thing

I have a lot of skills. I'm organized. I'm a great planner. I am able to remain calm under pressure. All these skills set me up to be the perfect multitasker. And for a long time I was. I took great pride in my ability to keep as many balls in the air as I could find. If you needed a job done I was your girl. Not only would I get it done, I'd get it done well and on time. Doesn't that sound wonderful?

For a long time I thought multitasking was an admirable lifestyle. Then I realized by taking on anything and everything I was letting too much go. I was rushing through each moment to get to the next. My attention was so fragmented that nothing I did received my full concentration. Not my family, not my friends, not myself, not God. I was living my life like a constant string of commercials, 30 second bursts of intense effort with very little substance.

I began to realize the value of longevity and selectivity. Rather than saying yes to every little thing I began to say yes only to the things that would bring value and were in line with my values. That began with being present for my family. I limited my computer time. (This area could still do with some more limits.) I began to stop what I was doing and look at my children when they spoke to me. I concentrated on what they were saying rather than on the list that ran on continuous play in my head. I sought them out to do things with me or so I could participate in their activities. I began reading aloud. I sat down with them for meals during the day rather than eating alone.

All these things may sound simple and they are. However, not doing them sends the message that anything and everything is more important than my children. If folding laundry or unloading the dishwasher is more important that what my child is saying or doing there's something off kilter. I don't mean that I can't ever do chores if my children are around. I'm saying that there are times when it is necessary and important to stop and really concentrate on the child at hand. As a born multitasker I didn't even realize the message I was sending and stopping cold turkey was, in my opinion, the best way to get control of the habits I'd developed. Now, I that I understand how important it is to do one thing at a time, I can sometimes talk and work but it's not the norm.

I've also realized that doing one job and finishing it has value and provides a sense of accomplishment. As a multitasker I often had lots of things going on at one time. I'd finish something and move right onto the next thing. There was no time to take pleasure in a job well done because the next job was already underway. My habit of layering responsibilities was robbing me of my joy in celebrating my accomplishments. Over the years, I've learned the importance of taking a moment to recognize and celebrate these achievements. No one else is going to do that for me. It take discipline to slow down and pay attention. This is especially true when other responsibilities are calling. However, even a moment to say to myself, "Wow, the laundry is all done. Nice work!" or "That lesson really went well." is so worthwhile.

There will always be the next big thing. It is important that I am now aware that not every big thing needs to be my big thing.

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