A Life of Interruption

Day 137 of coronavirus in France

Day 2 of de-confinement after 55 days of enforced confinement

Everyone talks about how our lives are interrupted by this pandemic but today I want to talk about the additional interruptions this pandemic has brought into our lives.

During a recent coaching session, several school kids agreed that for them the hardest thing about school at home is the constant concern that they didn’t understand or haven’t learned the material well enough.

Personally, in my house, I’ve identified interruptions as the main culprit of all or at least most obstacles to learning.

In the classroom, my daughter can concentrate on her writing without hearing that her laundry’s ready to be put away when she’s done. She can finish a math worksheet without overhearing a conversation about what’s for lunch or smelling lunch cooking as she works at the dining table that has been transformed into her schoolwork station.

A ring at the doorbell. A bird in the garden. The neighbors in their garden. Anyone in the family doing anything other than school on the main floor of our little house.

And those are all good things. I shudder to remember all the interruptions that we have caused shrieking when we see a big bug or reprimanding her that her room is a mess. At school she’s sheltered from all those things, even the smell of lunch is too far away to interrupt their classroom time.

I put myself in her shoes and I recognize that when a parent is on a long-distance video call we are training her to not interrupt until the call is over but when the roles are reversed we haven’t hesitated to interrupt her work whether it’s just to say I love you, ask her where she put the headphones, or add to her list of things to do when she’s done.

For the last three days we’ve been experimenting with non-interrupted time. Everyone should get some. I’m declaring this a new human right in my household.

Did you know that multi-tasking is a myth? Yep, that’s right, it’s been scientifically proven that your brain doesn’t really do more than one cognitive thing at a time. The neuroscience term for what you’re doing is switch tasking and you can get more skilled at it, but it takes more energy and is less efficient than the focus required to complete one task at a time and then tackling the second and the third consecutively.

So do one task all the way to the end before you start another and give your family members the space to do so as well.

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