Monday Musings

“I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once.”– Ashleigh Brilliant

Lately my life has been a bit like this. Some semi-psychotic researcher suggested awhile back that women can multi-task. Don’t you wish you could wring his unsuspecting little neck while making dinner and changing the diapers? Once it is declared as “infallible truth” that women can multi-task, what does everyone come to expect of them? That’s right: Lots of tasks accomplished all at once by one woman. Worse, we buy into this dread deal because we want to believe ourselves capable of multi-tasking for no other ability would be more welcome in a homeschooling family than the power to do everything well at once.

To keep the illusion going that we can, in fact, do many things at once, we avoid the activities that take undivided attention. It’s much easier to nurse the baby in the sling while clearing the kitchen table or reading a book aloud than it is to potty train a toddler and write a description of a cactus. Writing so often falls through the multi-tasking cracks.

But then those days of non-writing gang up on you and the next thing you know, you feel attacked by weeks of inactivity related to writing.

I understand!

Recently research was released that says that multi-tasking is an illusion. (I knew it!) The truth is that all of us focus on one thing at a time, even when we do them in rapid succession. (Perhaps the real kernel of truth, then, is that women are quick at getting lots of things done, not that they can do them all at once.) So as I thought about the feeling of being attacked by my own life, I stopped to consider how I could get off the runaway train of too many tasks to do at once.

I made a list.

  • Write first
  • Drink tea
  • Eat food
  • Write a bit more
  • Make lunches for co-op
  • Write a bit more
  • Start dinner
  • Grade papers
  • Write

I have many writing tasks ahead of me today. In order to get them done, I have to work around all the other things that must happen. (Kids gotta eat!) I have to write in short bursts rather than waiting for that long, silent block of time where I can write uninterruptedly. Instead, I’m tasking in rapid succession rather than multi-tasking.

Perhaps you can add some writing to the day that is less than the perfect model time for writing, but that squeezes it in around the edges of your already over-full life. In fact, I know you can, because you are a rapid-fire tasker!

2 Responses to “Monday Musings”

  1. […] I saw this quote over at Brave Writer  and what can I say, it spoke to me. On a couple of different levels. […]

  2. Jennifer Hansen says:

    As a “multi-tasking” mom, I related to this article. I especially identified with the comment that once those around you know you can multi-task, it becomes expected behavior. When you do forget something, suddenly you are a “failure” – “How could you forget? Are you having short-term memory loss?” When in actuality, you forgot one of seventeen things you had going at once! I guess I picture multi-tasking as the ability to remember what’s on the queue. Some people make lists (which I do when life gets so crazy that I have trouble remember more than 10 things at a time :-)) Others manage quite well just sequencing the items in their head. It all depends on how hectic life is at the time, whether I can keep track of (remember) the items on my queue. I’m happy to have my calendar, but don’t look at it as often as I should. Something about writing down the appointments seems to cement them in my head. That really helps me keep track of my daily and weekly queue. As homeschooling moms we just have more items to manage than most average people. I applaud all you homeschooling moms out there who have jobs besides wife and homeschooling mom (you included, Julie). So, don’t be afraid of “the list” when life gets hectic. Writing down helps us to remember 🙂 (in more ways than one).