Military spouses can do it all. We juggle more hats than a circus clown most days. We pride ourselves on being able to take care of everyone, all of the time. Give us a challenge, five minutes notice, no resources, and NO CHOICE… and we will own whatever the situation throws at us. And how do we do it all? How do we manage to hold it all together? Because we are masters at multi-tasking. Doing four things at the same time means we are done four times faster and we have extra time to sew the hole in our superhero cape, make dinner from scratch and make meaningful pinterest crafts with the children. Multi-tasking is the key to being a super-spouse in today’s fast pace and demanding world. Right?
Well, I am starting to think that theory is chock-full of horse manure.
Actually, I am starting to think that multi-tasking is making us less efficient, robbing us of the joy in our lives, and giving others permission to make unreasonable demands on our time.
For years I have prided myself in being able to do many things at once. I can change a diaper, text a writer the answer to a word count question, while having a conversation with my best friend who called with a crisis. Preparing for a PCS move during a deployment WHILE volunteering with 3 different organizations? Sure. I got this. I love my work and life and gladly am immersed in the military spouse community on a daily basis. I thrive when I am busy, and when left with no projects or an outlet for my creative side… am probably not a pleasant person to be around. There is rarely a time during the day or night where my brain is not spinning… I am constantly creating. It is all I know.
But recently I have realized that perhaps my brain is spinning a little bit too fast. Spinning and spinning and spinning… but not really propelling myself forward. And possibly driving those around me completely mad.
When trying to work on three different projects, while taking care of the baby and answering phone calls, texts, or other messages from the 40 different programs on my smartphone… am I really giving all those people my attention? Are my projects really being done to the best of my ability? Am I spending quality time with my daughter?
Sadly, and I really hate having to admit this about myself, the answer is probably “no”. On all fronts.
Now some multi-tasking is unavoidable. As human beings we are capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time. We all have multiple things going on in our lives. We live in a world of 24 hour news, smartphones, tablets… everything moves very fast and we want to keep up. Some multi-tasking is to be expected and does make our lives easier.
Except when it makes it harder.
I sat down to watch a show on the DVR the other day. After re-starting it for the fourth time, I gave up. For the life of me, I could not concentrate on the story line. I kept checking social media, answering emails that could wait until later, made two phone calls, answered countless texts. That same day I was trying to write a personal blog and also gave up because I lost my train of thought 100 times. Sure, I had answered six people who wanted an answer now (because they know that my phone is attached to me and I will respond) had started two household chores, and started to look at some papers my daughter gave me for school. In the end, I don’t remember what I talked to those six people about and NOTHING got done during my multi-tasking frenzy.
I realized that multi-tasking really should be called “multi-failing” because, more often than not I am trying to be every thing to everyone at every moment… and I get less done in the process.
I am not one for New Year’s Resolutions and it is not even 2014 yet… but I already know one thing that I am vowing to do from this moment forward: Focus on the moment, the person in front of me, the task at hand… finish it, and move on to the next.
Let’s be real… that won’t be easy for me. I don’t imagine it would be easy for many reading this. But I am going to give it a shot. And I really want to hear from you… do you think multi-tasking makes you more, or less efficient in your everyday life?