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A glass of water pushed me to reconsider how I am choosing to dedicate my focus.

I must admit I am surrounded by distractions. Checking my phone, opening bills, sneaking in some writing time, and answering questions from my daughter sometimes occurs in the same time period. My mind ping-pongs back and forth from one task to another and I realize that this behavior is a reflection of my restlessness. Until now, I haven’t considered the repercussions of my multitasking tendencies, but at the first of the year, the world yelled at me to stop, pause, and listen.

           ***

After my daughter is tucked into bed, I retreat to my office for some quiet time. In the two hours before I go to sleep, I will either read, write or journal at my desk. One particular Tuesday evening at the start of the year, as I sat down to write, I placed a glass of water on the corner of my desk on top of what I now realize was a set of unsteady, staggering set of books. Many of you maybe able to predict how the dominoes started to fall in this particular scenario.The glass toppled over and a few droplets of water landed on my keyboard. I grabbed a towel to soak up the water and, to be honest, I did not think too much of it, as I closed my computer and decided to go to bed.

The next morning I opened my computer and turned it on. Nothing happened on the first try. I pushed the start key again and still no response. On the fourth or fifth try, the computer started and I thought in my mind, “crisis averted.” When I started typing on the keys, I realized some of the letters did not work and then a slow rise of panic started to hit me. What if enough water had seeped into the keyboard to kill my computer? The more keys I pressed, the less it kept working. At that point, I knew I had to take into the store to get it evaluated. The succession of events that followed left me pondering for days. My computer’s hardware was shot. I had not backed up my latest version of my manuscript, nor a year’s set of pictures.  Most of my personal and professional life lived on my computer. After some emotional outbursts and tears, I am lucky that I have a husband who understands my writing life. We found a place that could recover my data, but it came at a price.

***

I am typing this post on a new laptop because my other computer could not be salvaged. I realized that accidents can happen, but I blame this particular mishap on the distractions that fly in my life. The universe really started screaming at me when my daughter posed this question,”Can you go 24 hours without any technology?” The toppled water, her question and my angst begged me to question where is my focus and why do I feel the need to think and do a 100 things at once. Study after study, proves that multitasking is not an effective to way to live one’s life, either professionally or personally.

Because I started the year in this way, I’ve realized that I need to pay attention. Pick up my phone less. Do one thing at a time. Not check FB or Twitter while I am writing. Read without distractions. Answer my daughter’ s question with all of my attention, instead of say uh-uh, while I am half-glancing at some screen. Keep my desk clean with the task that is requiring my attention at the moment it is happening.

These changes will not occur overnight. But the distractions are keeping me from fully immersing myself in one particular endeavor.

It took an innocent glass of water to wake me up.

IMAGE VIA FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS BY BFURNACE

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