Uni-tasking

A few confessions: I love the Candy Crush Soda game and I apparently have ADHD.  In addition to that my job requires a LOT of mental activity and decisions: “What’s the best way to say this? What’s the best way to point this out? Is it better to listen now or interrupt? ” and so on. The point of all of this? My brain is tired more often than not. On balance, though, I also love my wife and my kids, I love God and justice, and I love music and I love TV. I like time in blocks and hanging out. I love sleep.

By now, you’ve noticed that there are only 24 hours in a day and my stuff won’t fit. So what do I do? I try to do more things at once. And to prove I’m up to the task, I make decisions at lightening speed while playing more Candy Crush.  Am I up to the task? No I am not. My brain gets even more tired. Activity –> consequences–> more of the same activity … Anyone see a pattern here?  Yes, I work with addicts because I understand them.

Of course, one of the problems with addictions is that there is no or little time for meaningful relationships. My wife has noticed. My kids, not so much. They’re on their own phones playing games.

My solution? Multitasking. Watch TV with my wife, while talking about the day and play Candy Crush! Interrupt it all when the phone rings or a text message comes through. Of course, the thought is … This how I’ll relax. In the middle of this, I complain because I can’t hear myself think. Somebody else is interrupting my thought patterns. Multi-tasking is a good thing isn’t it?

Clearly, this isn’t working. I’m horrible at multi-tasking and a failure at doing-life-as-everybody-else does-it, assuming of course that everybody else does do life this way. I analyzed the situation.

Acknowledging the problem is the first step toward fixing life’s problems.So, what’s the problem ? My brain is tired. The answer? Rest it. Why is it tired? Too many decisions. Where can I make fewer decisions? Not work. Not with my wife if I hope to still have a relationship. TV only requires a decision every half-hour. Candy Crush?  There’s the problem! 20 decisions in a minute!!!! But I like it! Now what?

Maybe the problem is… Multi-tasking.

So here’s my solution: Uni-tasking. Only one thing at a time. Put down the phone. Have a conversation until it’s done. Turn the tv off while I converse. Then answer the phone after the show. Then play a game, or do something else..

After my most recent conference in Washington, D.C., I have become more and more interested in how the brain functions. Recent studies say that we have 2 different speeds for focus — intense, quick decisions and slow, blocks of time on a longer project. We get stressed when we have to shift gears between the two.

What I have discovered in uni-tasking is that I enjoy each thing wholly, rather than sort of. I get to take in the full presence of the person I talk to or the animal I pet or child I talk with. I’m full present when I pray or just sit quietly. The process forces me to think between things and I feel more in control of my own life, with fewer mistakes made and less frustration. My choices are better, because my choosing is better. My thinking is clearer, which changes the feedback loop from chaos and getting worse to more in control and getting better. That’s the way I like to go.

Is this easy? No. It decidedly is not. It isn’t easy to remember to do uni-tasking, at all. When I do it, I like it. Remembering to do it is not easy.  Because I do like it and it does work for me, I encourage you to try it. Maybe you’ll like the “flow” better. If you are one of those people who can — and likes — multi-tasking, which so many people apparently are — do whatever works.

Note: As part of this clearing process, I don’t think I’ll be blogging for awhile. My next post will be at the end of July/beginning of August and will be something special, unless something BIG comes up and I feel compelled to write to write in the meantime.

Peace,

John

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