I think by now we have all heard that maybe, multi-tasking isn’t exactly all it’s cracked up to be. Have you ever wondered why you can’t remember the simplest of things, like where you parked your car, where you left your keys, or where someone said they grew up- whom you just met yesterday? Now, let me flip this… I bet there are things you can recall with uncanny sharpness. Here are some examples: Where were you when you heard the news that you are having a baby, you received the call that you got the job you always wanted, when you were proposed to, or kissed for the first time by someone really significant?
The reality is, these are all just memories. There aren’t some that get etched in red or in bold, versus others that have a self-destructive timer on them. (Although wouldn’t that be nice for some of them!) The difference between what you can remember and what you can’t, comes down to your level of focus AT THAT TIME. Let’s go back to that lost car in the parking lot – I bet you were thinking about where you were going, what the meeting was about, whether or not you were late, or would the person notice the spot on your shirt- that you didn’t when you put it on. In that moment, the location of your car was not even on your radar. And when something doesn’t get logged into short term memory, there’s no way for it to be locked and loaded for recall into our long term memory. On the flip side, if you think about any of my examples above that you DO recall, it’s because that event had your FULL attention. In that moment, there was not another thought that shared the space with saying, “Yes, I would love to spend the rest of my life with you!”
Be present and focus on what matters
So let’s bring this down to our everyday life. The next time you are working on something that matters (and quite frankly anything you choose to put time to, should matter) ask yourself how many other thoughts you are entertaining at the same time. If you focused on one thing, not only would it get done much faster, but more importantly with greater meaning. To be clear, I am not talking about fast, sloppy work. I’m talking about actually being present with the ONE thing you are doing in this moment. Again, if it warrants your time at all, it should warrant your full attention. As a parent I will tell you this- your child would rather have 15 minutes with you and your undivided attention, looking them in the eyes and fully engaged, than an hour with you while you half listen, as you check email on your phone. If you want to know what heartbreak feels like to a child, wait a day from when you half paid attention to them as they were talking and ask how their game went… then wait for the response, “Don’t you remember, I told you yesterday – we won.” Be present and focus on what matters.