I have been called the “Queen of Multi-tasking” because of my brain’s ability to be efficient and productive. Whether it is calling the disposal service company about a missed pick-up while driving to the grocery store, checking my emails in the school pick-up line, or chatting with a friend while prepping dinner, I have somehow become masterful at making the most of my time. My husband often marvels at how much I can accomplish in a single day and asks if I can “leap tall buildings in a single bound” as well. (1)
In many ways, I have been pleased with my ability to achieve more than I have the time and bandwidth for. I double-up on tasks and have a laser-sharp focus to accomplish important as well as mundane tasks. You see, my crew has been in a busy season for quite a while. I often find myself thankful for a quiet moment so that I can squeeze something else in. Yet, I am discovering all of this comes at a cost. (2)
Unfortunately, I have noticed my ability to quiet and calm myself has been greatly diminishing because I am falling out of the resting habit. I have a harder time turning my brain off at bedtime. When I try to quiet, my mind is back to my old habit of cycling through To-Do lists. I notice my brain’s attention isn’t always where I want it to go when I’m with my family.
As I have talked about this with Jesus, I have felt His encouragement to slow down. I have felt a gentle nudge, a reminder for the value of rest and stillness, telling me that when I try to squeeze something else into a limited window of time, I am missing the opportunity to breathe and rest for a moment. While I do enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes with getting so many things checked off my To-Do list, I am missing the joy of living in the moment.
I have sensed Immanuel nudging me to slow down and notice how it feels when I make the conscious decision to pause and rest instead of taking advantage of every spare moment to get caught up on my tasks. I have felt compelled to notice the difference when I enjoy the quiet and the moment instead of doing one more thing.
The other night I was waiting for a friend to pick me up. I knew she would arrive in a few moments, so I started to reach for my phone to check a few emails while I waited. At that moment, I felt a quiet nudge. I put my phone back in my purse; then I sat by the window enjoying the view outside while I waited. When my friend arrived, I felt refreshed from those few moments of quiet and appreciation, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with her. I was present!
Yesterday, as I was driving alone in the car, I started to make a call to utilize my 30-minute drive best. Again, I felt a gentle nudge. Instead of making the call, I enjoyed the beauty around me and reflected on things I feel thankful for. Immanuel met me at that moment with a profound sense of His Presence and overwhelming love for me. Wow! Was I ever glad I paid attention to the nudge and enjoyed that sweet time with my God!
I have been priding myself in how much I can get done, but in the process, I have been missing the moments to drink in my surroundings and simply be still. I feel like Immanuel has impressed on me that resting and being still are valuable tasks to accomplish!
As a mom, multitasking to varying degrees is likely going to remain a way of life for years to come. Whether it is chatting with the kids about their day while I prepare dinner, or folding laundry while watching a movie with the family, there is nothing wrong with doing two things at once. All too often, family life requires we juggle more than one thing at a time. What I am learning to practice, however, is that making the most of every moment doesn’t just mean getting as much done as humanly possible. Being fully present in the moment and savoring what and who is in front of you is highly valuable, often more than whatever task I am trying to achieve. I must be comfortable having unfinished To-Do lists. I want to take advantage of a moment for quiet to only be still, or talk to Immanuel rather than seeing what else I can “check off the list.”
If you can relate to my journey, or if you are used to running on To-Do lists to check off all the tasks on your plate, I have a suggestion. What if you added quieting and moments to be still to your To-Do list? What if resting and “drinking in the moment” was a task you needed to accomplish each day?
1. This is a Superman quote.
2. Research shows that multi-tasking doesn’t allow us to get more done in the long-run; it taxes our brain’s resources to navigate life and, no surprise, increases our stress levels. Learn more here.