Frankly, I stink at it.
The myth of multitasking has been perpetuated for too long. Juggle, hustle, do it all. If we’re being honest, when we try to juggle too many things, we might be able to do it for a split second. Then — splat, clatter, crash.
I can’t do it. You probably can’t either.
One of the best things about being in my forties is I no longer feel the pressure to do everything all the time. It’s liberating and I love it. I don’t care if people don’t like it either. Wish I’d learned sooner.
If I want to write and leave dishes in the sink until tomorrow, I do.
If my kids want to go somewhere, I’ll take them and leave editing of an article for another time.
If someone invites me for coffee after work, I’ll go and we’ll have breakfast for dinner instead of a big meal.
If I didn’t get in all my steps for the day, I’ll take a walk with my husband and worry about answering an email later.
Potato Salad Lessons
Frankly, I’m done with being distracted and frazzled all the dang time. I’m really bad at multitasking anyway. Just recently, I overcooked potatoes that were supposed to be for potato salad because I was trying to put laundry away while they cooked.
I forgot they were on the stove and they were mush by the time I remembered. At the advice of my wise thirteen-year-old, I added butter, salt, and milk and they became the side dish for meatloaf that I’ll cook on Tuesday.
Mushy potatoes notwithstanding, I’m making the most of life these days. When life gives you a mushy mess, make mashed potatoes. I had to peel potatoes and start again after my distracted mishap. The lesson? Sit and enjoy a cup of coffee until the potatoes are done.
In the past seven or eight years, I have pumped the brakes on busyness. There were stretches of time that I wasn’t home in the evening for eight or ten days at a time. I was going all the places and doing all the things.
But I really wasn’t.
I was thinking and worrying about other things when I was supposed to be doing something else. Stress gripped my mind and chest and I didn’t feel well. I was short with people and short on sleep. I was not my best self.
Eventually, I realized that all this chaos wasn’t necessary. I had the right and the responsibility to say no. For myself and my family, I had to learn to be wiser about my commitments.
One of the best and most healing lessons I’ve learned in recent years is the importance of rest. In a culture that praises breakneck busyness, taking time to rest can make a person feel guilty. This is one of the great lies of our day.
Resting well helps everything else in our lives fall into alignment. When we are refreshed by times of rest, we work better, have better relationships, and are more positive about the future.
A grueling grind without downtime leads to burnout and frustration. It can even lead to illness, both physical and mental. We place ourselves at risk when we fail to listen to the signals our bodies and minds send, pleading us to slow down.
Rest doesn’t just mean sleep. It means restful waking times too. These times could include walking, reading, hobbies, and other activities. Feeding our bodies, minds. and souls with these things helps us in ways that endlessly plowing through life cannot.
Embracing rest reduces distraction because it clears up headspace and demands nothing of our minds. When we are resting, we should focus on freeing our minds of other cares.
It also demands slowness. We cannot rest well and be busy at the same time. Suspending other responsibilities, even for short periods of time, reduces distraction and allows us to reset.
Rest is Not a Four-Letter Word
Busyness is not a badge of honor, so let’s stop pretending it is.
What’s Most Important?
People are the most important commodity in this life. If we are distracted, we can’t love well, listen well, or fully enjoy our relationships. I cringe to think of how much time I spent half-paying attention to my children in favor of some other task. I am learning to discipline myself to stop, look them in the eyes and listen.
My husband, my friends, my coworkers — they all deserve better than distracted, scattered attention. I know how I feel when others are half-listening to me. I know how it hurts when others place their busyness before their relationships with me. Why would it be acceptable for me to behave this way?
My husband, my friends, my coworkers — they all deserve better than distracted, scattered attention.
In light of this, we must remember our relationships first and give them our attention. Given my racing brain, I have to be intentional and focused on stopping, resting, listening, and prioritizing. Most urgency is imagined when it comes to what we “have to get done”.
Ditching distraction is hard. But when we do, life becomes richer and more restful. Start small and don’t be afraid to slow down. The benefits are beautiful and you’ll feel brand new.
Thank you for reading! I’m Tracy Gerhardt-Cooper and I invite you to follow me if you’d like to read more real talk about real life. Let’s do life on purpose.