I have a challenge for you.
First, some background:
Spinning Plates is Stupid.
I was talking to a good friend of mine over coffee and we decided that the whole Women Multitask to be more Effective thing is a myth. I am fairly rubbish at spinning plates. Ok, we can multitask, as pretty much anyone physically can, but if we do, then everything we task at suffers. Bearing in mind that this friend is (1)working and (2)doing a Masters and (3)raising kids and (4)is a wife and doing all those tasks admirably well, while I am (1)working from home and (2)raising kids and (3)being a wife and as usual I am doing one of those pretty well while I watch the other two suffer (the one I do well randomly rotates between those three), I think she was saying that to make me feel good.
Or maybe not, maybe that’s how she really feels. We women also do that thing where we feel we’ve never really done something good enough, especially when it comes to family things, even if we’ve done it admirably well. Enviably well. I look at some women and think: how?! And I’ll bet they think to themselves ‘oh, if only I had made 60 cookies instead of 40 for the Scouts last night…’ Or whatever.
I’ve been quiet on The American Resident because I’ve had two months of family visits. I know! Two months of being with some of my closest family, them hanging around my house and being a part of my life, meeting Minky and Raffy for the first time (everybody loves cuddle-cat Raffy, Minky is just so aloof), seeing how Paddy has aged, meeting the chickens, watching the kids do their different things (Oh, and I must show you some photos from The Wedding!), and them just being nearby has been the biggest treat of all for me. But ‘Having Family’ replaced ‘Working From Home’ on my list of Multitasking because I simply couldn’t fit it all in. And even then I feel like I wasn’t a very good host and have spent the days since their departure mulling over what I should have done differently rather than how great the whole visit was.
Multitasking. Sure, we can hold a baby on our hip and stir a cake and answer the phone and greet the husband and kick the cat (by accident–he was underfoot) and burn the dinner (by accident –I was stirring cake!)… But I don’t think the question should be Can we do it well? I think instead, Should we do it at all?
Isn’t the Multitasking Mindset the very thing that gets us into such a tissy, frantic about getting everything done, anxious about trying to have it all, worried that we haven’t done enough?
Time to escape the multitasking myth. Join me?
Another thing this good friend said to me over coffee (she was drinking tea) was that doing things mindfully, in other words, doing one thing at a time so each thing can be done with full awareness and done well, helps us to live in the moment. Living in the moment means we aren’t distracted by what might or might not happen, or by what could have been done differently and can’t be changed.
By living in the moment not only do we enjoy each moment more, but we remember each moment better and we don’t get to the end of a visit, or the end of a day and think ‘it was all a blur! Where did the time go?’ and begin forgetting things almost immediately because our minds simply weren’t present enough to record those things well enough to keep them. What?! Why sacrifice great memories because we were trying to plan dinner and figure out the best time to plant the bulbs while spending a day with our family?
If you could have the secret to reducing stress and anxiety, would you take it?
Just think about why a holiday is so relaxing. On holiday you’re probably doing at most two things at a time and usually one. Lying on a beach and reading, that’s two. Hiking up a mountain, that’s one. Seeing the sights in a city and talking to someone about them, that’s two. Sipping coffee in a cafe and people watching, that’s two. Playing on a beach with kids–well, ok, that can be about eight, but you’re starting to see what I’m saying, right?
We’re most relaxed on holiday because we put ourselves in situations where we do one or two things at a time. We are present in those moments, we’re not thinking about all the housework we should be doing or who’s going to collect the dry cleaning tomorrow because you’ll be at that conference and what if they forget because the dry cleaners don’t like that and might threaten to sell your clothes but only if you leave it there too long and so if someone doesn’t pick it up tomorrow you might forget and maybe leave it there too long and then they’ll sell it…
Forget multitasking, I say. I can make a placard if you like, No More Multi Tasking! Do each thing like you’re on holiday and only allow yourself to do one, maybe two things at a time. Think about what you’re doing, don’t let your mind wander to those worries about what has happened or what might happen.If you’re worried about forgetting to do something, keep a notebook with you and jot it down, then make ‘reviewing the notebook’ one thing to do later. Acknowledge the worry then move back to the present moment, and allow yourself to experience only that moment.
I’m going to try it for a week and see how I feel and how productive I’ve been at the end of that week. It’ll be a tough week to try it–we have two birthdays in our family this weekend, and I have a lot of work to get caught up on, but I figure a tough week is better than an easy week to try it out.
So whaddya think? Want to try it with me?