Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Friday, November 5, 2010

Gorillas in the Midst

It has lately come to my attention that my particular form of multi-tasking generally involves, not actively trying to do more than one thing at a time, but rather flitting from task to task like a bee too juiced up to focus, leaving in my wake a profusion of things in the making.  You know, like the film trailer tag, "Ten years in the making, . . ."  Only somehow it doesn't have quite the punch when I use it to describe an embroidered Christmas tree skirt.  Or an organization system for my kitchen junk drawer.  Or my bed. 

It has helped to pare down my to-do list each day, and to set focus goals each week.  But I'm still completion-challenged.  

Some of the many books I've read on writing--in what I thought was preparation for, but turned out to be instead of, actually writing--advocate ending the day's work in the middle.  This can mean that we shouldn't stop at a chapter break, or be taken so far as to suggest quitting in the middle of a sentence, or even having typed only part of a word.  The idea is that this fragment of what comes next will prompt or jump-start the next day's writing.  Is that why I'm littering my life with incompletes?  So that I'll always have something before me that invites action?

Or have I just never developed the habit, or the discipline, to stick with a thing until it's finished?  Or is the rhythm of my life so recurringly interrupted, and adherence to my own plans and commitments so shaky that I'm continually being jarred off course?  Could this have anything to do with being a mom?  Like how we needed to learn a new way to hold conversations, which involved growing the ability to retrieve lines of thought derailed by refereeing toddler disputes or responding to urgent requests for potty assistance, permission slip signing, or brief psychotherapy?

Or like just now, when my online high schooler answered his cell phone as I was writing this post and preparing to head for the office.  Suddenly I am rerouted to a distant suburb where the standardized test appointment he overlooked is in progress.  So I shorten the post (to be continued next week), skip my shower, call in late for work, and head for the hills, or the falls, or wherever.

And now I get it.   Stay tuned for what I intend to do about it.

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