A lesson in losing
I lost a good part of a day last weekend. Our daughter’s new passport had arrived and I made a mental note to put it away in a safe place there and then. I don’t know about you but I often find myself scooping up six items needing put away and dropping them off en route as I go around the house. Not this time – we might not be able to travel anywhere soon, but a passport’s too important to take any chances on.
So much for my good intentions! The next day I remembered that I’d planned to put the passport away but couldn’t remember doing so. My heart sank – oh, no if it’s not in the place I’d intended to put it…who hasn’t found keys in the washing basket and a phone in a shoe, obviously the victim of multi-tasking!
Please not the bin
So the hunt began. I’m sure you can relate to this. You search everywhere, go through every drawer and cupboard, start to look in least likely places – just in case. Wondering if you could have put it in recycling by mistake (of course the recycling bin had just been collected the day before – typical!).
‘Forget it, it’ll soon turn up‘ I told myself. But the not knowing annoyed me and I kept going through everything. My search became a family search. I’d a feeling that I may have been distracted en route and could have put it down somewhere. Searching the obvious places didn’t help.
The passport did turn up. Seriously, the relief. Yes I had stopped on my way to chat (we’re not talking about a hike here, we’re talking about kitchen to upstairs bedroom!) and in doing so, put it down.
The problem with multi-tasking
These wasted hours, at a time when I already had more than enough to do, made me think about the problem with multi-tasking. The problem with trying to do too many things at once rather than just doing one thing and following through to the end. We think we’re being efficient but in reality we’re often half doing things or in my case here, completely messing up.
It also made me reflect on how many of us live much of our lives on autopilot. Not really thinking or being present in what we’re doing but instead being ‘elsewhere in our heads’. It’s not surprising then that we make mistakes or when we lose things that we’ve just put down (- I know we all do this as discussing the silly mistakes we’ve made is one of the most common conversations I have when chatting with others). The sole reason for this being that we’re not giving our full undivided attention to the one thing we’re doing at the time.
This brings me to the greatest gift of all. Whether its a gift to your partner or loved one, your children, elderly parents, friends or colleagues – the greatest gift of all you can give is the gift of your time and attention.
Pure undivided attention is rare. Think how it feels to be on the receiving end of someone who is fully present in your conversation, not scrolling, chopping, day-dreaming or even thinking how they’ll respond. Simply giving you their time and full attention. Now think of the opposite: when you’re talking to someone and you know they’re not listening or they’re trying to sideways glance at their phone.
Time well spent
Maybe it wasn’t a lost day after all. Maybe it was what I needed reminded of – that our time is precious and therefore when we spend time with others, the real generosity is in fully sharing it with them.
‘The best present you can give is to be present’.
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