I used to be the kid that would veg on the couch for hours doing nothing but watching episode after episode of Gilmore Girls, The Hills, Ace of Cakes, Hannah Montanna, really whatever was on and fit that stage of life. My mom used to get on to me all the time when I would waste days away in the summer watching hours of TV instead of getting outside or putting my brain to use. I still watch a lot of TV, don't get me wrong, but I struggle to just watch TV.
I love The Bachelor. I always have. I have a group of girlfriends who come over every Monday to watch it together. But even with one of my favorite shows on, and in the presence of all of my friends, I can't just sit still. I'm always multitasking. My phone glued to my hand or flipping through a magazine or finishing up Tuesday's blog post on my laptop. I've found myself struggling to focus on just one thing.
I know I'm not alone in this. It seems as though my whole generation struggles with the enemy of multitasking. My brain is always in a million places at once, jumping from one project to the next, always needing more to be fulfilled. Why can't I just do nothing?
Besides multitasking, I just can't sit still anymore. It's something I have been trying reeeeeally hard to work. I'm giving myself a pat on the back currently for writing this post without the TV on, no music, not simultaneously checking Instagram. I am just sitting in my quiet house typing away. A few weeks ago on Father's Day I was spending the afternoon at my parent's house. We had gotten home from church and lunch, I had already made the homemade ice cream and pie for dessert, I had prepped the side dish I was making for dinner and then my to-do list was empty. Crap. It was about 3:00 in the afternoon and we weren't eating until about 6:00. What was I supposed to do for the next 3 hours. This may sound silly. Annie, you can hang out with your family, you can read a magazine, or just hang on the couch? But nothing sounded fulfilling enough. I asked if anyone wanted to go on a walk.
Me: Come on guys, I'm bored let's get up and move around. Who wants to go on a walk?
My family: No we are tired, it's hot. Just sit down and relax.
Me: But I can't. I can't sit still anymore.
My family: You need to work on doing nothing and being okay with it.
Me: Fine, I'll go on a walk by myself.
So, I proceed to go on a walk around the neighborhood by myself, with my favorite podcast playing through my ears. I was perfectly content and had a great walk. Once I got home, it was getting later in the evening and there was more commotion and prep happening for dinner. Thank goodness because I would need something else to do by this point. The next evening as I was settling in on the couch to watch the Bachelorette. Friends were coming over, I was eating dinner and checking my phone (obvi), when I got an email from my dad. The subject line read "Why Doing Nothing Is So Scary–and So Important - The Experts - WSJ." Ugh dad, is what ran through my head, but I proceeded to read the article because it was clearly some kind of sign and my dad is always right. Below is our conversation via email.
Dad: Thought this might be of interest. Some pretty good advice in here about disconnecting and having a little downtime every day.
Me: Yikes, this is spot on. I can't not be doing something.
Dad: You need to learn how to do nothing. More walks like yesterday. Without your phone. Love you.
Ya love you too dad. Reality check, I need to chill. The article starts by talking about workaholics and how they can't unwind, how going on vacation stresses them out and how they thrive on energy in the office. I'm not a workaholic, but I can relate. "Having time to just sit and think can be uncomfortable, if not unnerving. Indeed, being alone with one’s thoughts can be downright scary." Being alone with my thoughts, yuck.
I still loving going on walks while listening to podcasts, but I try not to be checking my emails or Instagram while I'm doing it. I try to focus on one task at work, finish it, then move on to the next. This is still really hard, but I'm working on it. I've become addicted to watching Parenthood on Netflix (Dang that show is good). I've been trying to silence my phone and turn it over while I watch, so I'm not multitasking social media while watching my show. Naps used to frighten me. I hated them. Well, I sort of love them now. Parenthood is a little to blame because it is really just an excuse to watch another episode as I drift into a slumber. But there is something super re-charging about an afternoon, or quick post-work nap. I hate to read. You all know this. My mom got me this book for my birthday and I have actually enjoyed clearing out time to sit and be alone with my thoughts while I turn page after page. I may not be ready to sit alone and do nothing for 15 minutes like Dr. Samantha Boardman suggests in the article, but it's something I hope to accomplish soon.
Are you afraid to sit still too? How do you unwind and do nothing? Do you have any tips for my over-compulsive multitasking ways?