The Myth of Multi-tasking

"You can multi-task but you can't multi-attend"

I recently learned this phrase at a professional development workshop I attended. At first, I defiantly thought, "No. I can multitask. You just must not being doing it right." But then I listened and gave it some more thought. 

And really, I think it is true. How many times am I half heartedly spoon-feeding B dinner while simultaneously answering a work email? Half the time he swerves and I'm not paying enough attention and it ends up on his forehead. When we get that taken care of, I return my gaze to my email only to have to re-read to remember where I left off or how I was going to reply. Neither of these tasks is getting my full attention, which they deserve. 

Me and B, multitaskin' 

Me and B, multitaskin' 

 

To be honest, this phrase lingered in the back of my head for a while. I referenced it at work a few times but hadn't thought too much about how it applied to my home life. 

Then the idea of 'presence' kept coming up. A major pain point for me was that I felt I had SO much on my plate, nonnegotiables, things that (I thought) no one else could do. And because of this, I couldn't be as present as I wanted to be in my son's life. This is when these words started to make sense. 

Not only would I feel more present if I ignored the work email during dinner but I'd also be able to devote my full attention to any messages once dinner was over or the baby was asleep. Both tasks would also probably take less time if I completed each of them independently as compared to how long things drag out when I try to accomplish them simultaneously. Win-win. 

We are so suckered in by all of the immediacy around us that it makes us think we must also do, respond, participate now ...if not sooner. I think it's time we all learn to close a few tabs in our brains once in a while and really attend to the moment.