Recently I have been anything but a “serene woman”.
I’ve always prided myself in my ability to multi-task. At any one time I have at least three different things going on. The washer is going, the dryer is going, the dishwasher is going and I’m folding laundry while listening to Grace read…or…I’m sewing up a quilt row, talking on the phone, and holding Ruth on my lap…or…I’m cooking dinner while cutting out a pattern on the kitchen counter, and texting…or…I’m talking to Simon about an invention, holding the dog, and mopping the floor.
Sound familiar to anyone? (I’m sure it does.)
And over the past few months it’s gotten completely out of hand. I’ve had far too much to accomplish and simply not enough of me to go around…so I’ve shifted my multi-tasking into high gear and have been going full steam ahead! The lists I’ve written for myself to complete each day are more than anyone could do…and yet…there I am telling myself I can’t go to sleep until I’ve finished all the work, volunteering for projects, and saying yes to unnecessary things when I really should be saying no.
I could see that I was on the train to Crazytown but I didn’t know how to get off.
One day I was so frazzled from running from here to there while working on 75 different things and answering 39 different phone calls and 82 different texts that I told my husband that I felt like I was spinning around in circles so fast that I was making myself sick….but that I didn’t know how to stop. And it was true…it was all too much…and I didn’t know how to stop it.
Later that night as I was up
working mulit-tasking in a quiet house I remembered something that I had read several years ago…something that seemed unimportant (even ridiculous) at the time but now felt like the answer to my problems. As I reread the pages that I read years ago I knew that yes, indeed, this would be the beginning of the solution to the mulit-tasking mess I had gotten myself into.
In her book “Simple Abundance” Sarah Ban Breathnach says that “Serene women do not become sidetracked” and that “Sidetracked women, who scatter their energies to the four winds, never achieve serenity.”
She goes on to say; “Today we must start to recover our sanity. The way we do this is to concentrate slowly on completing one task at a time, each hour of the day, until the day is over.” And that we should bring all of our “attention and conscious awareness to whatever we are doing…”
When I originally read this I thought it was a lame idea and said to myself “now there is a woman who must not be able to multi-task”. But as I read it again the other night I understood the wisdom and knew that what I had been doing was indeed scattering my energies to the four winds” and I promised myself to start on a personal journey towards serenity.
The next morning I began. And, quite frankly, it was kind of scary for me. I have spent years doing a million things at once…and I could see this was going to be a difficult habit to break. Over the days that have followed (and it hasn’t been many, I’m still just beginning to take back my sanity) I have found that when I concentrate only on one task at a time instead of multi-tasking I get work done both faster and better. I have also found that it helps me to do whats most important first rather than what I can do all at the same time. Both of which are great things. However, there are two other side effects from concentrating on one task at a time that I did not expect but surely appreciate.
#1. It has helped me to become more engaged. I am present in and with whatever task I am working on…from cooking dinner to folding clothes…which helps me enjoy the task more (as crazy as that sounds).
#2. It has helped me to remember to “be with” my children when I am with my children instead of having them be just one more item to juggle.
Oh, how I want to be a serene woman.
Oh, how I want to stop becoming side tracked.
But for me, it’s going to be a process. Thankfully though I think I am on the right track now…the trick is now to stay on track! (And hopefully I will…especially since I can see how making just this one changes has already changed so many things for the better here at my house.)
PS: Being a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a friend, a neighbor, a blogger, a pet owner, a church member, a small business owner, etc. etc. etc. makes like FABULOUS but it also makes it easy to become overwhelmed and take on too many things which means I need to be constantly watching to make sure I am not taking on too much. (Which if you have figured out how to do this…let me know!) And so I think anything that can help lift us up and make life easier is worth sharing..so over the next, well, forever I will share how the journey is going and any helps that I find along the way.
I read a book a while ago called I Take Thee, Serenity. It was about a girl named Serenity and how she was anything but serene. This post reminded me of that book. It took her years to get to where she thought she was living up to her name. I shall try this journey with you, because I’m overwhelmed as well, even though I don’t wear nearly as many hats as you do!