The other day I was having a conversation with a friend while I was doing my hair, getting dressed, and eating a quick snack. At the same time, she was driving and telling me how she just rushed out her door with a Power Bar dangling from her mouth as she juggled all the items she needed for a skating competition. I always thought that the ability to multitask was a good quality, but I'm beginning to rethink my opinion. Since returning from Europe, I've noticed how much I multitask. I'll throw food on the stove and then walk away. Then in my mad dash to complete other tasks I forget to return to the kitchen and many meals have had a charred taste to them. I've eaten many meals at my computer or while reading books without paying attention to what I was putting in my mouth (not a bad thing considering how the food tasted, but otherwise not a healthy way to eat).
What I've realized about living this way is that it's impossible to enjoy the moment. How can you taste the food you're eating while running out the door, driving, or working? How can you be present in a conversation when you're distracted by doing housework?
I've also found that multitasking is inefficient. While I was in Europe I felt like I had extra time. I was on vacation and the typical worries of cleaning a home or running errands were gone, but I was surprised at how much I did in a day. It wasn't unusual to start my morning with an hour work-out, cook a nice breakfast and sit and enjoy it, then take a long bubble bath and get ready for the day. I walked to the train or bus and traveled an hour or more each day on public transportation. I spent hours in museums, shops, and restaurants. I walked almost five hours per day and had time for leisurely conversations with the people I met. I cooked dinner almost every night. I wrote, payed my bills, worked, emailed friends, and did photography. I never felt stressed.
In America, stress and being overwhelmed is a sign of success. If you work long hours, overload your life, complete three tasks at once, you have a full life. I think we're doing it wrong. We've stopped enjoying the moment and we live in the to-do lists of life (not the fun life-lists). Then we fall into exhaustion in front of a computer or television.
Maybe we need a lifestyle remodel. If we stop feeling guilty about enjoying life we might be healthier, happier, and more engaged in enjoyment. If we give up multitasking along with our technology addictions, we might have more focus to complete individual tasks. I'm going to give it a try and see how it works. I want to bring the person I was in Europe home to the USA. If I can't, I think my only other option will be to move to Europe.