I was taking a walk with the little guy I watch every day, and pulled my phone out to call my sister. She didn’t answer, so I tried to think of who else I could call. Then I thought, “Well, maybe I’ll listen to some music.” I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to listen to at the moment, but then I remembered a recipe I wanted to look up on Pinterest, so I pulled my phone out again and opened the app–but then I froze.
Why did I feel the need to do something else while I was walking? Why wasn’t walking enough? Why couldn’t I just take some deep breaths of the fresh fall air, enjoy the foliage, and make tractor noises with my little guy (which he does for the entirety of the walk)? Even though none of the things I wanted to do were bad, doing them while taking a walk wasn’t necessary.
How often do we feel the need to do multiple things at once? It seems we feel more productive when we are doing more than one thing at once . . . but are we really being more productive?
Recently I’ve been noticing how often I try to do several things at once to make myself feel like I’m getting more done, like I’m “busier.” I heard in a podcast the other day that “busy” is the new “fine.” We live in a culture of busyness! When people ask how we are, what do we say?
“Oh, I’m so busy.”
“Just been so busy lately.”
“Life is just so busy, you know?”
I honestly believe we are not as busy as we like to pretend we are, both in what we say to others and how we spend our time. We say we are busy, but don’t we really mean we’ve just said “yes” to too many things? We think we are busy, but really aren’t we just doing too many things at once?
For example, if my story at the beginning wasn’t enough, how often do we feel the need to check our notifications and whatnot at traffic lights or even while we are driving? How often do you work during lunch? How often are you on your laptop or phone while watching TV or spending time with family? How often is your brain somewhere totally different than the task you’re actually doing? And how often do you feel guilty because you’re only doing one thing, like just sipping tea on your porch or just chatting with a friend?
Maybe I sound like a broken record, but I am burdened about how we are so BUSY doing other things instead of connecting and focusing on what really matters, which is why this was a strong theme in my two most recent blog posts. Constantly worrying about what you have to do, or working on those things instead of giving wholehearted attention to whoever you’re with, will dissolve your relationships. Put down the phone. Stop what you’re doing to listen to or connect with that spouse, child, or friend.
It makes people feel awkward though. The other day Joshua and I went out for dinner and he left his phone in the car. We had been having discussions about not being able to just sit still and do one thing (or, worse, do nothing! *gasp*), and he wanted to try it. So when I left the table to use the restroom, he just sat there pleasantly. When I came back, he said he got some weird looks, and some people looked uncomfortable. Why? People don’t know what to do when someone isn’t hiding behind their phone. But what happened to simpler times when we could just sit and live presently? Again, we convince ourselves that we are being productive, or even that we are “connecting” with people, every time we pick up our phone. But I truly believe that constantly checking and doing things on our phone actually makes the opposite true. We are less productive and not truly connecting.
It is also difficult to do any one thing well when you are never doing just one thing. There are several verses in the Bible about working hard, doing our best, and doing it all for the glory of God (Col. 3:17, 23; Ecc. 9:10; 1 Cor. 10:31), but how can we do our best if we are doing so many things at once? While preparing for this blog post, I read a couple statistics and other blogs and websites about why multitasking is not good. Secular websites and surveys reveal that it makes you LESS productive, not more! And when you look at it from a Christian perspective, all of this means that we are not being good stewards of our time or the tasks God has given us to do when we do multiple things at once.
Worse than living at the speed of light, missing more important things, and fooling ourselves into thinking we are accomplishing more than we actually are, this need to multitask spills into our spiritual life. It is increasingly difficult for people of this day and age to sit down and just have their devotions. It is almost stressful to kneel or bow my head in prayer, without thinking of a thousand other things going on or that I should be doing. If we are honest, we probably check our phone every few minutes while we are reading our Bible, even if we say it’s just to check the time. It’s like we can’t do just one thing. In the same way that not being fully present when we are with our family and friends is detrimental to those relationships, not spending focused time with the Lord is detrimental to your relationship with Him.
I’m sure you’ve heard preachers say often, “Just do what you can. Listen to scripture while you drive, pray while you’re doing dishes, etc.” And while it is GOOD to get as much Bible as possible and pray as often as possible, it is BETTER to make devotions and prayer time a priority. Again, I am not saying that you should stop listening to the daily Bible reading while you make your breakfast or pray while you drop your kids off at school. What I am saying is that doing those things should be in addition to your personal quiet time with God. Frequently in the Bible, especially in Psalms, we read about how it is good to wake early to spend time with the Lord (Psalm 5:3; Job 1:5; Mark 1:35). God says in Psalm 42:10 “BE STILL and know that I am God.” Please, saturate your life with scripture and “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17), but set apart time to just do one thing: spend time with your Lord and Savior.
I hope you’ll join me in this endeavor. I think everyone should slow down and live more simply. Life isn’t as complicated (or busy) as we make it. Be intentional about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Don’t give into the temptation to pull your phone out constantly, to feel the need to do more than one thing at a time.
Challenge yourself to do just one thing. Do it well, do it intentionally, do it for the glory of God.