I got thinking after church this weekend, and realized I am Very Distracted. I chalk it up to being "task-oriented" and "efficient"- but often, whatever I am doing, I am thinking about something else. My mind is always working- whether it be about my to-do list at home, my tasks at work, a discussion I had, an issue I read about, a problem a friend is having, my schedule this week, the grocery list... the list goes on. The results of a mind-that-never-rests is distraction- constant multitasking. It means, very often, when I'm doing one thing, my attention is split between what is in front of me and the thoughts in the back of my mind.
Sometimes this is a good thing. If I get stuck on a problem at work, I'll go and do something else, the problem will turn over in the back of my mind, and I'll be able to look at it afresh when I come back to it. While I'm doing something monotonous like walking to work or washing dishes, I'll be figuring out an efficient strategy to get done all that I need to do that day, or composing a blog post in my head.
Other times, however, the always-moving-mind is a bad thing. When I'm doing something that ought to have my full attention, I'm not "all there". When I'm supposed to enjoying a movie with my husband, I'm mentally going over whether we have all the ingredients for dinner, and figuring out when I need to start cooking. Even worse, when I'm in church worshiping God, I'm doing the same thing. All the things I'm thinking about are good, and probably need to be thought about at some point, but I realize I'm being unfair to God & loved ones if I'm not giving my full attention to spend quality time with them.
One vivid memory I have of being all there is on the way back from my honeymoon. We had looked into Pigeon Forge cabin rental but settled on a lake house in northern Wisconsin owned by an uncle. On my way back, in the car, I realized my mind wasn't wandering, and hadn't been all week. I was totally and completely with Josh during our vacation, enjoying myself rather than worrying. Partly, this was due to no immediate to-dos when we got back, but the absence of worry was very relieving. Other trips that have gotten physically out of my normal routine have had similar effects.
I do a "brain dump" on Josh every night before bed. "Did you remember to do X?" "How do you think so-and-so is doing?" "I was reading today about a study that shows Y causes Z..." Whatever is in my head before bed needs to be emptied before I go to sleep. It's probably very annoying. Another way I've found to empty my thoughts is to write down the ideas I'm thinking- hence, much of what appears on this blog, and the four or five bulleted lists that currently surround me at my desk. Getting the ideas out helps me focus more fully on what ought to have my attention. I'm still learning this.
I could go on- about how a culture of cell phones and IMs has created an expectation of never getting full attention from anyone. Or how I first realized this problem when I picked up photography as a hobby. But I'll stop, for now. Right now, I have other things that need my full attention.