Sixth Shift

Here’s a dirty little secret about me: despite all of the things I juggle in my life, I’m a terrible multi-tasker. 

For better or for worse, I don’t multi-task as much as I serially single-task.  Practically, what this means is that I try to be in the present for whatever is in front of me, and other things will have to wait until I can get to them.

Obviously, emergencies happen and you flip the switch real quick; if the school nurse calls, you don’t want until after your conference call is over, you haul ass to get your kid.  And, just as obviously, you seek to integrate different parts of your life so that there is overlap; for example, going for a run with your kids, or serving on a non-profit board that also helps you with your day job. 

But there’s actually a lot about my life that is fairly distinct, and I work hard to keep it that way and to be in the moment for each aspect.  If it’s my turn to take our kids to the doctor’s, I don’t check work emails or take work calls during that time, so I can be present for them.  (That and the fact that anything medically-related requires all of my attention to comprehend!)  When I take time in the morning to pray and exercise, that’s my time, and I try hard to not let anything encroach on that self-care. 

Being appointed to the School Board represents another allocation of time that is fairly distinct from other parts of my life.  And – as with listening to a pediatrician! – since I have so much to learn, it requires my full self rather than a distracted version thereof.   

As a result, my days are beginning to resemble a sequence of distinct shifts, one after the other, the inability to “cheat” by multi-tasking meaning that other things have to wait until I’m able to turn my attention to them.  Just to provide one day’s schedule as an illustrative (by no means necessarily normal) example:

1.       4:30a-6:30a 1st shift – pray, read Bible, check email/Facebook/Twitter, blog, run, lift, shower, get ready for the day

2.       6:30a-8:30a 2nd shift – get Asher up, make him and the other kids breakfasts, get lunches ready, do the dishes, clean the kitchen

3.       8:30a-11:30a 3rd shift – attend event related to School Board

4.       11:30a-5:30p 4th shift – go to the office, do work, go to work-related meetings

5.       5:30p-7:30p 5th shift – come home, do dinner/cleanup/bath/bedtime with kids

6.       7:30p-9:30p 6th shift – catch up on all work I didn’t get to during the day or that piled up since I was last “on the clock”

Here's another example:

1.       4:30a-6:30a 1st shift – me time
2.       6:30a-8:00a 2nd shift – Asher/kitchen time
3.       8:00a-10:00a 3rd shift – Aaron/Jada dental appointments
4.       10:00a-5:00p 4th shift – work
5.       5:00p-8:30p 5th shift – School Board
6.       8:30p-10:00p 6th shift – more work

Please do not interpret this post as a complaint about my life or myself, because it is the opposite.  I love my life and am comfortable with what I need to do in order to fit in everything that is important to me.  I have many friends whose lives are much more fluid than mine and/or whose temperament allows them to be more fluid in their responsibilities and pursuits, and I admire that greatly...but I seldom wish for it for myself.  I am realistic about how I am wired, and I am focused on what matters.  At this stage in my life, this is what it looks like. 

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