There’s this new thing for iPhones called screen time. Among monitoring the hours you’ve spent on social media (now there’s a reality check)and allowing you to set up blocks of time that your apps are unavailable, it does this crazy thing called tracking your pick ups. Every time you pick up your phone, scan your thumbprint and go to the home page you are being tracked.
I won’t share the number here because it’s embarrassing but let me tell you, I pick up my phone throughout the day more times than I thought humanly possible. And I know the only way I can achieve this world-record-breaking number is by holding my phone and whatever else I’m working on at the same time.
It seems that I must be constantly multitasking. While I eat breakfast I check my morning emails. While I play cars with the little one I read an article. While I wait in line at the grocery I scroll through Instagram. While I write at the coffeeshop I work on curating a new playlist. While I read at the end of the day I have a text conversation going.
The multitasking isn’t just about the phone. The mentality that I can (and should) do more than one thing at a time has seeped into every aspect of my life. I’m planning lessons for next week’s classes while on the bus to a choir event. I’m working on a blog post in the ten minutes between piano students. I’m crafting my next Instagram post while practicing piano.
Needless to say, productivity isn’t the thing breaking records over here.
My brain has become fatigued by being so spread thin these days. I feel it stretched out, trying to keep a corner open to actually listen to the person talking to me, to actually read two pages in a book consecutively without opening my phone to google that one thing I just remembered, to actually give my full attention to the task at hand. But there’s too much movement, too much trying to happen all at the same time.
My life is spread out. There’s no way around that in this season. My jobs are many and spread out, and there’s no way but to utilize the little cracks and crevices between tasks to accomplish my personal goals and adulting tasks. But I don’t think that requires me to be juggling twelve things at once during all hours of the day. Instead I’m allowing myself the permission to be focused, to be entirely present to the work for that moment and nothing else.
I’m learning to hold one thing at a time.
I take up the single task at hand. Now is the time to practice piano and accompany the school choirs. I can allow myself to focus on this one thing and if I get nothing else done that’s exactly how it should be. And when the task is through I set it back down and move on to the next thing without feeling like a did a half-hearted job, without feeling like I did mediocre work. I set it down and pick up the next thing.
It is the kindest thing I can do for myself these days. It’s the gentlest way to reign in my mind’s millions of tangents. It’s the best way I know to hold all the abundance of this rich life in my hands without letting it spill through my fingers. I touch each part of every day, I look it in the face, I accept it for what it is, I notice how it feels in this exact moment.
In my experience, a practical roadblock of doing the next thing in love is we are carrying too many things in the first place. What if we gave ourselves permission to hold just one thing at a time? -Emily P. Freeman The Next Right Thing Podcast
I don’t know if it increases productivity, I’m sure there’s research that proves that it does, but I don’t really care about the productivity. What I’m after is a life where I am fully present to the place I’m in, fully alive to the moment I’m living. A life where my brain feels settled and my heart still. I’m over the hurry and the hustle and the constant ways to distract myself.