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In this together: Working to avoid the multi-tasking mania
Oct 26, 2012 | 2944 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print

By Louise Shaw

Clipper Staff Writer

T
here is an art to living in the moment. To being where you are and not drifting off to somewhere else.

And it’s an art I’m going to master. If it kills me.

I’m tired of having my mind moving on to the next thing while it should be in the same place the rest of me is.

Perhaps you know the feeling. You’re sitting at dinner, you’ve got good company across the table, the food is great, the conversation is interesting, but there’s a project you need to get done as soon as you get home and your mind keeps flitting off as you wonder how you’ll accomplish it and what would happen if you didn’t.

You’re reading a book and suddenly realize you have no idea what the last four paragraphs were about because you’ve been thinking about how best to deal with an issue that’s come up with a child. 

You’re talking with a family member and he’s in the midst of a story about something that happened in the 70s and you wonder if you remembered to lock the front door when you left home.

Sometimes it’s more than our thoughts. Sometimes doing two things at once prevents us from being entirely in the place that would make one of them meaningful.

It’s more obvious when you see others doing it.

Like the woman I saw a while ago walking her son to school while reading a book.

What good is walking your son to school if you’re not talking to him about his teacher, his friends, his favorite subject or what he’d like to be when he grows up?

Or the busy mother who was addressing envelopes while sitting at her daughter’s soccer game. What good is being at a soccer game if you’re not watching the soccer game?

I’ve never done that. No never. Kind of.

And I wish I could say I never ate a sandwich while driving or checked computer updates while talking with a friend or coordinated an appointment while rocking a baby.

Now that I’m a grandmother I know that rocking a baby should take all your attention.

Holidays are a multi-tasking mania for mothers. You’re at the elementary school music program but your mind is writing the list of what you need to pick up on the way home. You’re fixing dinner but your mind is going over what gift would work for that friend who already has everything.

Sometimes it’s necessary to be doing two things at once, sometimes it’s even beneficial. Sometimes it’s required, like reading a newspaper while eating breakfast.

But sometimes our multi-tasking is causing us to miss things. Like ingredients in dinner. When we’re never entirely present in the moment, we’re never entirely embracing it.

It’s my new mantra: Be where you are.

I decided before our summer reunion at the Oregon Coast that I wasn’t even going to bring a book.

Books and beaches often go together, but I made a conscious decision to have one thing fewer to even think about doing. This trip, my time would only and entirely fit one of two categories: 1. Visiting with my kids. 2. Playing with my grandkids. 

Even the walking on the beach and watching the waves, which normally get priority, were only part of the equation when, thankfully, they were what everyone else wanted to do.

And for a week my family got my entire attention. 

It was being there. It was living. I’m going to do it again sometime.

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