Saturday, January 19, 2008

Suffering With TDD (Time Deficit Disorder)

"I just don't have enough time!" It's the most popular complaint in my unscientific study of casual complaints. A lack of time comes in first pushing money and weight to a distant second and third.

A friend confided that the one thing she wanted more than anything was time. Time to stop and catch her breath. I had to agree with her on this one. Days rush past me in such a blur that I'm left dazed and confused. What the hell did I do today? Of course once I lay in bed, I can conjure up the rushed series of events- errands, writing, chasing toddler, homework help, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc, etc, etc. But this exercise just makes me even more anxious in the middle of the night as I begin to realize that there were hundreds, maybe even thousands of things that I didn't even get to. AAH!!

Then a couple of days ago, while rushing around the kitchen trying to get dinner ready at a decent time, after picking up my son from drama rehearsal, helping my daughter with her homework, keeping my toddler from throwing pencils at his brother while he did his homework, put dry laundry away, and tried to write one more page in my novel- I realized that I wasn't breathing. Not in the technical sense, the heart was still beating, the lungs were indeed working but I wasn't taking those rich cleansing breaths they teach in yoga. I was one giant cramp, struggling to complete all these tasks at the same time. Is this what I do every day? It's no wonder I'm exhausted all the time.

I realized that I was suffering with TDD- Time Deficit Disorder (my professional diagnosis). It's a tricky little disorder which causes the sufferer to believe that they can maximize time and actually create more time by packing as many activities into one segment of time. Basically, it's the equivalent of trying to read a page from five different books all at the same time. Sure you'll finish five books but it won't make a heck of a lot of sense in the end.

We're slaves to multi-tasking. We praise those who get a lot done. It's not quality but quantity. I read an article not too long ago while waiting for an appointment. It was a feature on a woman who had just been promoted to some new corporate title. Not only was she just promoted but she was taking classes for her MBA at night, she was president of several women in business organizations, she was an active member in local politics, she taught continuing ed classes, she volunteered at local charities, and she had published several non-fiction books in her industry, while raising three children. I was tired after reading the article. I was exhausted for her. She wasn't an exception, she has become the norm.

We're all cramming as much as we can into our waking days because we think we're supposed to. People won't be impressed unless you're a administrative assistant who is also training for a black belt in karate, is president of the PTO, reads to the blind, and run your own business at night while homeschooling your seven children. There's absolutely nothing wrong with having a rich multi-faceted life but when you cram so much into your day that you don't have the time to read a book, call a friend, have a casual chat with a neighbor or play a game with your children then something is wrong. We're not living life anymore but chasing time.

I've had enough. I'm off the multi-tasking roller coaster. I've pledged to focus on one thing at a time before moving on to the next task. This isn't as easy as it sounds. I'm the high-priestess of busyness. The first day I gave it a real try, I found I was actually relaxed and had accomplished a pretty fair amount. The next couple of days, I failed miserably as I found myself trying to do three things at once but I'm determined to conquer my TDD.

How about you? Are you guilty of doing too much? If you've conquered your TDD, please share.

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