Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Is Multitasking Worth It?


Noodles in place, meat sauce slathered on, spinach leaves and ricotta positioned just so, half way there to a baked master piece. Then I noticed the unopened packages of cheese glaring at me from behind the lasagna pan. In all areas of my life I am proud to say that I am "A Work in Progress", even in the kitchen. But the truth is that the cheese-less lasagna was actually the result of too many ingredients in my multitasking recipe that afternoon.

I have always been a "Productive Patty". You know the type; the person on the job who actually gets excited when the boss says, "We are having a meeting to roll out a new project", the parent who organizes the school calendar before the school sends out theirs, the student in school who met with the principal every third Tuesday of the month to discuss the plans and projects for student development, (okay that one is just crazy, but I did that, probably setting new position descriptions for student body presidents), so you would think that I would be a big cheerleader for multi-tasking.  The truth is there was a time that I was.  A time when I thought that accomplishing as many things as I could would produce greater results.  What I have found is quite the opposite to be true...let me explain.

"So we built a wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work"
(Neh. 4:6 NKJV)

The Bible is filled with great “chefs” of productivity who, with God, cooked up amazing results for His Kingdom, but one of my favorites has got to be Nehemiah.  Nehemiah was the king of Babylon's cup bearer and because of his integrity and dedication to this role when God placed on his heart to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city wall the king gave him a leave of absence to do so.  Nehemiah stayed focused on this project.  Any little projects he did along the way were always, in some way, to help build the wall.  In less than two months Nehemiah and those involved were able to complete the building of the wall around the city of Jerusalem, putting to shame any modern day city construction project.  Nehemiah showed us how productive someone can be when they stay focused.  If Nehemiah would have taken on many projects while trying to build the wall not only would the wall not have been completed on time, God's time, but most likely would have been missing some key ingredients....like my "Cheese- Less Lasagna".

Over my life I have been an "all in" kind of person, and many times being an "in all" kind of person, which caused me to have too many pots cooking on the stove at once.  From junior-high to career I thought that the more I did the more productive I was being.  For a little while this seemed to work, until I began to break down in other areas of my life like my health and my personal relationships.  

Over time, instead of scaling back what I was doing I would put projects on "simmer", a holding period, which allowed me to briefly put out a fire only to return to the pressure.  I lived this way for years.  Adding project after project until something boiled over, only to clean up the mess and turn up the heat again.

Having too many things “cooking” at once, is not only dangerous, but it also takes more time for the finish product to come out.  It could have taken Nehemiah a year or two or three to complete what he did in less than two months.  Because he and his people "had a mind to work" instead of a mind to multi-task they were able to get something done.

While it is true that we all have a lot on our plates, if we stay focused on each portion we are able to enjoy what we prepare.  Being a wife, mom, teacher, leader, and helper I continually seek God regarding my priorities.  I am learning, from Nehemiah, how to have "a mind to work".  When it is time to teach, we need to teach, when it is time to read to our children we need to read, when it is time to cook we need to cook, when it is time to work we work, all the while staying focused on what we are doing instead of what we think we need to be doing.  Of course,  things might happen along the way that cause us to have to take care of something, but it should be like adding seasoning, it should only be momentarily.  During the building of the wall the people had to fight off their enemies while they worked, actually holding weapons in one hand and tools in another....but this was not the whole time.  It was addressed and then they went back to focusing on the building project.

Instead of multitasking we should be priority tasking.  Staying focused on our priorities helps us to stay out of an over tasked kitchen.  Does this mean that we must choose between letting the kids go wild or allowing the spaghetti to boil over?  Well....yes, while also taking care of both.  If we are working on the spaghetti, a minor priority, we can always pause to take care of the kids, a major priority.  Then when we go back to the minor priorities we can finish them knowing that we did not allow them to take us away from the most valuable things in our lives.  Finding the balance is not perfect, but with God he will help our work progress so that we do not miss out on the most important ingredients along the way.

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