Friday, March 9, 2012

the illusion of multi-tasking



It’s late at night and I’m tired. Today was one of those busy days where I felt pulled in so many directions that even though I ended up accomplishing a lot of stuff, the details belonged to different parts of my life. So in the end, instead of feeling a sense of satisfaction, tonight my eyes glance over at the laundry that I never got around to, and the work project that’s still sitting on my desk, untouched.



And I shake my head. Because honestly, it’s hard to feel pleased about what I did get done, when there are   so many things still unfinished under those scattered categories in my head.

viatheneotraditionistvia theneotraditionalist

Yes, I made progress on my event’s budget, board member gifts, favors and invites. But I didn’t get to my marketing project. Yes I went grocery shopping and cooked for my sick son, but I didn’t have time to write a post. Yes, I cleaned my guest bathroom, but I never had time to exercise. The trades off are everywhere. So I end up feeling frustrated, and I wonder, would it be different if I could focus on ONE thing? Would I finally attain that elusive sense of catching up?


Because I remember those BK (Before-Kids) days when my career was my central focus, but I also remember having luxurious stretches of ME time, so that I could meander for hours in stylish boutiques in my quest for the perfect outfit. And I used to have nails that were always done; and I remember how easy it was to shrug away tension on a Friday night over dinner and wine, when I didn’t have a household to manage and kids and sports schedules on my mind and a school calendar on my desk. 

Multi-tasking. It’s so over-rated.

I’m aware that it’s now become a complimentary label for today’s high-functioning woman; a description for that successful female juggler of career and family life, a woman who is gloriously “having it all” while appearing calm and fit, because of course, she got her run in this morning. 


But I don’t believe it. In fact, multi-tasking simply leaves me feeling like I’m under-performing in a lot of different areas. All at once.

Instead of being an “A” student in all my subjects, I feel chronically average in my multiple-jobs. And sometimes there are moments when I feel like a downright failure, a harried student getting a big fat “F” in my scrambling attempts to do it all.

Do you ever feel this way?

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This is the illusion of multi-tasking. It’s the idea that we can “have it all.”

It’s the faulty belief that we can do everything at an “A” quality when of course, it’s impossible. Because the truth is, Life is one big bargaining act, of weighing one thing against another and then making a choice. And the older I get, the more I realize that every breath I inhale will lead me to a decision about how I want to spend my precious, diamond-like moments.

Life, is constantly requiring that I define my values in a hundred little decisions each day. And when I choose which ‘task’ I want to love and embrace with all my attention, I am answering back: this is Me.


Technically, we can “have it all,” but we decide what’s really important. We prioritize and decide which items to toss off our list.


Because it comes down to, “What do we value more, is it A or B?” And then we juggle.

I know this fact, deep down. And I get mad at myself when I forget this truth and I’m rushing around at full speed trying to ‘have it all’ in some glossy-perfect-magazine-looking way. Which is of course, is an illusion. Because the simple truth is, there is only one ME.

And I can’t be in two places at the same time. So I make choices that are based on my values. 

So yes, I leave the dirty dinner dishes in the sink so I can watch a re-run of “The Office” with the family, or I skip my walk, so that I can get groceries in time for dinner…


But here’s the interesting part about multi-tasking.

It’s constantly telling us about who we are, about what we value, and what we want our lives to be about. And some of the quickest-on-the-spot choices we make with our time will tell us about our wisdom.

And If you’re like me, you will keep learning about yourself.

Because in the end, I think that  ‘knowing myself’ is the subject that I really need to excel in… 

What do you think?

Can you relate to this post? I would love to hear your views about “having it all.” Email me or leave a comment here, I love getting feedback!

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you make wise decisions with your time this weekend and that you’re happy.









Julie Gatherum-McGuire said...

Wow. Wonderful post and I so agree with you. I've had to come to the realization that not everything has to be perfect. So many times I've run myself to complete exhaustion because I thought my children had be dressed perfectly, the house spotless and the meals contained all basic food groups. Thankfully, that was a short lived phase and we are all the better for it.

momto8 said...

i think somethings can definitely be mopping the floor and listening to an educational CD..but being present to another human being i think, requires my full presence.
I am your newest follower.pls follow back if you can.
I don't worry about perfection anymore...if someone complains, they get the job next time. not too many complaints.

Rachel R. said...

Great post! I too have had that same thought lately, that I'm just doing bare minimum on many things instead of being able to fully dedicate myself to a few things. I have decided to re-prioritize my life and now I have running at the top of my list and I make more time to clean my house. This means I've had to cut back on my blog since I still work full-time too, but I know that I will probably never look back and say, "Oh, I wish I had blogged more!".

crystal said...

I loved this post. I feel exactly the same way. I try to get everything done and from exercising to cleaning the house and spending time with the kids and my husband. Sometimes it is just too much! I try to remind my self that I can not do everything perfect and my family is alot happier now that I just do my best. Letting go of the things that I could not get done has been hard, but I am getting better. I don't lay in bed and think, I did not finish the laundry, I didn't get to mop or whatever else there was to do.

Heather said...

This is a constant struggle for me too. I think though our values are often static, our priorities often change. Sometimes they have to! As a mom to high needs children, I have found that right now, the vast majority of my time and energy has to be focused on my kids. I cannot do much else right now (sideways glance to the mountain of laundry). Enjoyed spending my ME time reading your post. Found you on MBC. Cheers!

Suzanne said...

I left you a comment on MBC, but I agree, do we really want to leave a legacy of just being exhausted all the time? Some days mate, but everyday shouldn't be like that!

Thanks for the post and the chance to voice our opinions!

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