As she says, a lot of the time we’re not multi-tasking so much as single-tasking with other tasks running in the background, and we’re switching among them as needed. This can work really well, as long as what you’re switching in and out of doesn’t involve investing total concentration. Even then, some people can pull it off. Others lose valuable time and mental speed by reorienting to each new task.
The part of Charity’s post that made me stop and think was the list of things she identified as multi-tasking. Listening to the radio while doing dishes? I’d always thought of it as keeping myself amused while doing something boring. The music will definitely stay on while I’m doing chores. (Sometimes I even do extra chores so I can hear another song….)
But check out her Multitasking Fast and see what she gained in the silence: time to pray. I suppose that’s multi-tasking too, but it’s not the same. All the other things are external. Prayer is internal communication with God.
Charity’s fast reminded me of a somewhat-similar one an acquaintance tried a few years ago: a silence fast. She turned off the music, the TV, the phone, any source of noise she could. I think she still spoke to her family, or maybe she’d gone on retreat.
I remember her describing how hard the silence was to bear at first, and then how she began to appreciate it and to enjoy communion with God in the minor routines of her day. It was definitely a short-term experiment, but it sure made an impact.
I wonder if I could do a silent fast.
I wonder which of my family members would laugh the loudest at the concept. Silence? Me?
Even I giggle a bit inside at the idea, but something deeper still whispers of peace. Stillness. Wholeness.