Multi-tasking is seems so necessary today. I watch TV, write, listen to my kids, text... all at the same time. At work I'll be on the phone while I check my email and fill out paperwork. I'll drive, listen to music, talk on the phone, and go over my next appointment while in the car. How did we ever survive without the ability to do so many things at the same time? How did we ever communicate without ready access to phones, email, fax, social networks, texting, and IM?
Having a few days to myself, I've realized that I get a lot more done if I focus on one thing at a time. I write twice as fast when I turn the TV off. Granted, my mom probably told me that 20 years ago when I tried to start my homework in front of the TV at 9:30 at night. Household tasks are much more rewarding when you start and complete them the same day. I had also forgotten the joy of a good mystery novel, read without someone asking where something is or if I can help with something.
I think we cheat ourselves by trying to do too much at once. We lose our ability to focus on a quality conversation, to do a job well and completely, to slow ourselves from the frenzied pace our electronic devices allow. It's okay to turn them off. I have to remind myself that I don't owe it to anybody to be on call 24-7. I have permission to disconnect for a while. Remember the old days when you'd call and leave a message on an answering machine and hope to hear back within 24 hours?
I know it's probably not possible to avoid multi-tasking altogether, especially as a parent of two children. I remember the day that I decided I had reached my limit with multi-tasking as a parent. My children were 2 years old and 3 months. I believe I was trying to feed the not-so-hungry baby while my toddler was spilling food and throwing toys at the baby. I decided two children were about all I could handle.
On the other hand, there is a definite sense of peace and accomplishment when you set a goal, start a project, and then finish it, without the frustration of constant distraction. It may take some work to get rid of the distractions, but it is so worth it. Still, I look forward to having all my distractions back home with me soon!