Being Present

Growing up, I was a hyper active child. From the moment I woke up until I slept, apparently there was not a moment when I was not doing something. That the something usually involved some form of mischief is another story, but I was always doing something. This insane energy continued well into adulthood, especially once I went into grad school. I migrated from mischief to work and eighteen hours were not enough. Those who know me, know that I cant be idle for a second.

As an adult, I was taught by someone I know to multi-task. This is a skill where you attempt to do multiple things at the same time for example reading a newspaper or magazine, speaking on the phone and possibly trying to solve a work problem in your head at the same time. You were an expert if the person at the other end did n0t realise that you were actually doing something and you honed your skills to keep chipping into the conversation every once in a while “pretending to be there.”

As I read more about being in the now, I believe that it is not only impossible but probably not very useful to multi-task. For any activity that you are performing, I would argue that its the quality of your action and not the total time that you have spent on that task that matters. I was so conditioned to trying to do more everyday that it was hard to swap quality for activity. My day had to feel full. I bit my tongue (forgive the metaphor)  and am increasingly trying to focus on one activity at a time. Things that distract me easily for example email, phone calls, text messages are put on hold while I devote unadulterated attention to one thing. I have found my quality of conversations, my productivity and overall satisfaction has improved. It is too soon to tell if this is a placebo effect or a long term change but I am hoping it is the latter. At the very least, I certainly feel more calm and in control now.