Monday, August 27, 2012

Balancing Act

Do you ever have that feeling - even in the midst of being productive - that you should be doing something else? I do. All the time. It's multi-tasking in overdrive, a monster perhaps created from our current culture, in which doing one thing at a time no longer seems to be valued. Or perhaps it's a symptom of anxiety. It's definitely a fixture of my over-active, worrying brain. I never feel as if I'm doing enough. And it drives me nuts.

I can be standing in the kitchen loading the dryer, and be thinking I should be putting the dishes away, or answering that e-mail, or writing on my book, or running those errands. I can be sitting at the computer working on legitimate stuff (if blogging can be called legitimate?), feeling as if I should be cleaning out the basement or finally filling out Ellie's baby book, or any other number of things. 

Why is it so hard for me to focus on and be happy with the moment? To do one thing at a time? To be satisfied with doing one thing at a time, instead of constantly berating myself for what I'm NOT getting done? The stress I create for myself with this hand-wringing "You've got so much to do and you need to be doing it all RIGHT NOW" belief often leads me to just...check out. I paralyze myself with everything I feel I should be doing, and so I don't do any of it. Or at least not very much of it. I figure I'll just check Facebook, or eat some chocolate, or play CastleVille, and suddenly, whoosh, there's no time left. Not exactly helping the "You've got too much to do!" feelings.

I'm happier checking out. Maybe that's a clue to the problem. If I focus on one thing at a time, will I *gasp* actually have to do it? If I say I'm going to set aside one hour every day to work on my novel and not do anything else at that time, will I actually get something done? Horrors!

I do think partly that I, like most Americans, have too much to do, or at least too much I expect myself to do. I don't know what is realistic in terms of what most people can accomplish in a day. Not only do I have a lot of things I'm expected to do, I have a lot of things I WANT to do, and I can't seem to fit them in. Well, at least not when I'm frittering time on dumb things while freaking out over the bigger things. Duh, Anne.

The kids have gone back to school. My husband starts teaching today. And it's up to me to figure out how to spend this year learning how to FOCUS. One thing at a time. And not just time-wasting, mind-numbing things like Facebook or games.

I say all the time that I'm very task-oriented, and I am. So much so that I don't like to START a task that I can't FINISH at that time (or at least make reasonable progress on). Kids have inhibited that - I just have a hard time thinking I can start / get involved with some intense project, such as painting a room or writing or working on a photo album, etc, because I know I'll get interrupted and/or have to stop before I'm ready to in order to help the kids with something. That drives me nuts.

But in all honesty, I can't seem to focus on any task for more than 5 minutes. Is it my brain, so cluttered down with to-do's? Or is it my brain on modern technology, feeling as if I should check email or my phone or Facebook every 2 minutes? I certainly think that's part of it. Is it easier to get distracted now with all these electronic gadgets and the internet around? It is for me. Can one develop adult-onset ADD?

I'd like to stop beating myself up over all of this stuff, would like to unparalyze myself from inaction, and start DOING. In small steps. Baby steps. A little at a time. 15 minutes at a time. Whatever it takes. I've crafted a loose schedule for myself this fall, and I want to follow it: work out every week day (another area in which I feel like a complete failure, but that's another day's blog post), write, read/research. That's it.

I've been working on stuff for my kids' school this afternoon. I've been fairly productive, I think. But I've been telling myself the whole time, "You should be writing. You should be editing your book." Blah, blah blah.

So I took a few minutes and drafted this impulsive, not-so-well-written, stream-of-consciousness blog post.

And now I can cross writing off the list for today. I told myself I'd write something every day, even if "just a blog post." And I did. Take that, overactive anxiety-ridden, ueber-multi-tasking brain!

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