Every job I’ve applied to the past ten years wanted to know if I was good at multitasking and I always said “yes.” What I really should have said was “no” because I’m not and I don’t think I’m alone. We might all be able to do several things at once but we won’t do a good job. You can’t be in the moment and think about doing a bunch of things at one time. We are bound to make mistakes and have accidents. We certainly can’t give our undivided attention to three or more things.
When I was a waitress I had to do several things at once. My brain had to figure out how to jump from one thing to another (which is not really multitasking) so I could deliver food to my customers in a timely manner… and that didn’t even work out great, especially if I had a customer who wanted to chit chat while I worked. I can’t count how many times I would look for a customer’s food in the kitchen only to find out I never turned in the order. Why? Because I got distracted.
I really don’t think our brains are wired to do more than one or two things at a time, but that doesn’t mean I don’t try. This morning I was making my breakfast, feeding the cats and putting laundry in the washer. Things probably would have been OK if I hadn’t decided to do laundry at the sametime. While I was in the back room sorting clothes, I smelled toast burning so I ran into the living room, and leaned over the bar that divides the living room from the kitchen, thinking my hand could reach the toaster and I would unplug it from the wall. My fingers were at least a foot away so I leaned harder against the bar until I felt my breast bone buckle.
The pain was intense but I had to get to the toaster before there was a fire. I don’t know if that would have happened but it was the scenario that played in my head. Luckily, I made it to the kitchen in time. There was no fire but my chest hurt like hell. My bones weren’t fractured but I knew from past experience (leaning over the car seat to get something from the back, instead of getting out of the car and retrieving it) that I bruised myself pretty badly. It will take a few weeks to heal and every time I lean over to pick up something, I will be reminded of my poor judgment.
If I had fed the cats first, then made my breakfast and sat down to enjoy it, I wouldn’t be in pain right now. There was no rush to get the laundry done. I had all day to do that, but for some crazy reason I decided I needed to do all three things at once. Now I’m paying the price.
How many times have I done too many things at once in the past and forgot where I put my keys, glasses and other important things? I cannot multitask and stay in the present moment. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t and I’m betting you can’t either. Doing several things at once ends up costing me more time when I have to look for items I misplaced because I wasn’t focused. There’s a reason for that saying, “Haste makes waste.” I won’t even go into how stressed I feel when I’m doing too many things.
From now on, I will focus on one thing at a time. I will turn whatever I’m doing into a meditation. Anyway, I want to live more in the present moment and the only way to do that is to do one thing at a time. Nothing I do has to be done in a rush and my list of daily chores will either get done… or they won’t. There is always tomorrow to finish whatever needs to get done.