Uni-Tasking as a Pathway to God

juggle 2I am the queen of multi-tasking, as any of you who know me can attest, but I’m beginning to think that over-exposure to multi-tasking is hazardous to your brain — and to your spiritual life.

In recent months, I’ve found it harder and harder to focus on anything for more than a few minutes at a time.  In the middle of a conversation, I can completely lose my thoughts and find myself staring blankly at the other person, hoping they will fill the awkward, dead-air space long enough for me to remember what we’re talking about.  In the middle of walking into another room, I can find myself stopping in mid-step, wondering why I was going there and what important item I needed to find.

Now before you start emailing or facebooking me with remedies for early-onset of dementia, let me just say — thanks, but that’s not the problem.  Really.  I’m not in denial.  The issue here is multi-tasking overload.  My life is in constant motion and I rarely have a moment to just sit with my thoughts, to quiet my heart, to notice the flowers blooming or to listen for God’s still, small voice.   With a constant barrage of “to-do’s” on my mind, a steady stream of input from the media, and ongoing interruptions from my family, friends, door-to-door sales people, etc., my brain (and my spirit) is on overload.

But I have found a solution!

Yesterday, as I drove to meet with my spiritual director for a time of prayer and reflection, I sensed God inviting me to try something new that could help me reconnect with Him and restore some sanity to my life.  What is this mental and spiritual discipline, you may ask?  It’s really nothing new and it’s really quite simple.  God invited me to “uni-task.”  That’s right — He invited me to uni-task.

While our culture continues to extol the virtues of trying to do it all, be it all, and have it all, I sensed God inviting me to slow down and take a break from multi-tasking.  In order to “practice the presence of God” (a la Brother Lawrence), I need to pay attention to doing one thing at a time and doing it well before shifting my focus elsewhere.  I need to truly “be” with others in the here and now while having a conversation, rather than also having a running monologue in my head of all the errands I need to run when I’m done talking to them.  I need to work on keeping my heart and  mind connected to my body so that I can live in the present moment, rather than being fragmented and compartmentalized.

There is certainly a place for multi-tasking.  As a mom, wife, ministry leader, adjunct university faculty, friend, neighbor, writer, etc., there will continue to be times when I need to flex and bend and focus on more than one thing at a time.  But not everyday — and not today.

Today, I am seeking to be aware of God’s presence with me as I focus on one thing at a time, listen to one person at a time, think about one task at a time.  And in the midst of uni-tasking, I’m finding myself more readily aware of God’s presence.  He was there all along, but now I can see and hear Him more clearly.  And so far today, I’ve only found myself staring blankly at one friend in the middle of a conversation (sorry, Sandi).  I’m definitely a work in progress, but thankfully, God is a patient teacher!

So here’s my challenge to you — find a day in the coming week when you will commit to uni-tasking.  Pay attention to God as you go through your day and as you focus on just one thing at a time, allow God to join you in that task or project.  I’d love to hear back from you about how the day goes and what you learned/experienced.

1 Comment

  1. Janelle Dundore

    Linda, I know exactly what you are talking about. I too found myself multi tasking, spacing cause it was overwhelming and I wasn’t doing things well. God spoke to me 2 yres ago in much the same way you discribed. Well done good and faithful servant. Thanks Janelle

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