Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Multitasking

At last. John and Rebekah playing together while we do school.


I've been of the opinion that multitasking is a woman's duty. You know what I mean- talking on the phone, checking email on the laptop, putting on a bandaid, scribbling a note to tell a child to practice the piano, cooking dinner and unloading the dishwasher at the same time. I mean, it's a necessity. Right?

Now translate that into a homeschool scenario- giving a spelling quiz to the 4th grader, getting out playdough for the preschoolers, helping the 6th grader with story problems while searching the Web for that elusive multiplication game. That's just a one room school house, right?

At the end of the last school year, I felt a bit frazzled. I was not so much burnt out and ready to quit, but rather on my last nerve trying to meet everyone's needs at the same time. I had instructed my children, that's true. But had I checked for understanding? Patiently answered their questions? Engaged them? Looked them in the eye? Acknowledged their achievements? Sadly, the answer would be no.

This frazzled state was carrying over into my housework as well. I could go room to room tidying up, but never get anything truly accomplished. I was moving the same piles around the house and never actually doing anything productive with them. I just about drove myself crazy. Why couldn't I just get it together? Oh, did I mention, that I was checking Facebook, blogging and cooking dinner while doing housework?

Worse yet, this frazzled existence was seeping over to my children. I telling them, "Do this, this, this and that and come see me when your done." Meanwhile, I would interrupt them while they were trying their best in order to add to their list. Craziness.

This summer I spent considerable time taking a step back to take an honest look at my life. I read several books on homeschooling, time management, household management.... These all basically pointed to the same problem.

There is no such thing as multitasking done well.

The time and focus it takes to balance so many plates at once is counterproductive to getting anything done and done well. Life is better spent (and more glorifying to God) when lived with purpose. People become the priority in place of activity.

So that's my mantra for this school year. (Borrowing from the title of a book I read) "Say Yes To No." Saying "No" to the expectations to get more done faster and "Yes" to accomplishing the one or two tasks in front of me.

To the best of my abilities, I'm striving not to multitask. When dinner needs fixed, I invite a friend in to help me and we do it quickly together. When the phone rings during school, I let the answering machine do its job. When someone needs a bandaid, I stop where I am to find out what happened. When it's time to clean, I engage the troops and we stick to it for an hour.

Life's not perfect, but there's a balance being established that has long been missing.

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart..." Colossians 3:23

5 comments:

jennie said...

I think that you have some great insights! I have a very bad habit of multitasking. I think I will try this one thing at a time thing.

mindi said...

Definitely food for thought. I am TIRED of multitasking. As a matter of fact, I'm just plain tired. I can only imagine how you feel!!
I am totally going to take a step back and breathe, though, or else I will suffocate :D

Saralyn said...

I completely get it. And live it. Praying for us both!

Sniz said...

Oh my goodness, Monica! What a great post! You are so right. There's no such thing as multitasking well. I've been thinking along those lines for a long time. Multitasking is the enemy of mastery. And I want mastery of each thing we do before moving on. Otherwise we're wasting our time!

Mary@notbefore7 said...

Our First Lang Lessons Memory Poem this month:

Work while you Work
Play while you Play
That is the way to be
Happy each day

All the you do
Do with your might
Things done by halves
Are never done right

(and I typed it from memory...LOL...guess I pass the lesson today)

I have certainly had to re-evelauate my "multi-tasking" which is really just distraction.

Praying a more focused season on His plan for both of us!