Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Relearned Art

I have always been a good multi-tasker. I have always been able to find balance and have exceptional time management skills in order to accomplish everything. The last time I was in grad school, I was taking classes, teaching classes, doing research, working about 30 hours a week, planning my wedding that would take place across the country, and maintaining a house (or sardine can, since we are talking about San Francisco). My planner was color coordinated with assignments, appointments, bills, due dates, meetings, schedules. I had discovered a whole new array of highlighters and type A OCD.

And let's face it, being a mother requires a high level of multi-tasking ability.

In my last job, I had many roles and responsibilities, all of which were possible simply because I could multi-task like no other. However, somewhere along the way, between deadlines and play dates and emails and phone calls and shopping and cleaning...something went awry.

There have been times when I started one task, like folding laundry. Then Isaac would call me into the other room and somehow, I was cooking dinner, folding laundry, typing an email, talking on the phone, paying bills, and fixing a toy and picture frame at the same time. This is a mild example, It only escalated from there.

I would start 17 tasks at once. Oddly (snort) none of them would get done, and then at the end of the day, I would be in stressed out tears because I hadn't accomplished anything and the next day, I had even more to do.

I moved across the country this summer. I quit my job and started my PhD. I'm taking classes again and teaching again. I'm starting research. All things I have done before.

However, this time I have a husband and toddler and a puppy and two cats. Oh, and I MOVED ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

Multi-tasking has taken on new meaning. Somehow my old methods just aren't cutting it.

I realized this when I was trying to download something off a course website, trying to pay a bill, calling to verify an address had been changed, sending an email, and chatting with a friend on Facebook. I wasn't accomplishing anything. I was having issues among the various tasks. And a fellow grad student was listening to my expletives and trying desperately to follow what I was doing. A few times she commented that she had thought I was still working on one of the other tasks rather than the one I was actually working on.

My stress level has been increasing and it was only the first week of school.

I realized that I had to slow down and retrain myself. I could still multi-task, but I needed to finish things. Now, I don't have time to not get my stuff done. I don't have time to have to redo things or bump tasks until the next day, because the next day is already full. I have decided that going back to school is not going to take more away from Isaac than it needs to. That means I need my weekends. I want to leave as much on campus as I can.

So...I have taken a step back. I am starting one task and seeing it all the way through. If I get interrupted and notice distractions or other things that need to get done, I force myself to finish the first task.

It's working very well. I AM GETTING STUFF DONE.It's taking a bit of time. And a llllllooooootttt of retraining and forcing myself to follow through.

1 comment:

andrea said...

so glad things are starting to become routine!