Can’t Walk and Chew Gum at the Same Time

by | Jan 27, 2014 | 2014, Musings | 0 comments

A new study out found that people who are reading their phones or trying to send texts will find their walking gait disrupted. The study conducted in Australia found that these multitaskers unwittingly swerve off a straight line. “Their heads did not stay still as they should have, instead they were swiveling. Their arms, head and torso, rather than moving freely and fluidly, moved stiffly.”

Their conclusion was that this behavior put pedestrians at risk. The abnormal head motion makes it tougher to react and increases the possibility of injury. Their bottom line: Put the phone down while you walk.

As I read that study, I couldn’t help but think of that old line, “They can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.” In a society that highly values the ability to multitask, these comments help focus our attention on a very important truth: Some things deserve, in fact demand, our FULL attention.

So, what should we be so focused on that we don’t allow our minds to wander and ignore the temptation to accomplish tasks simultaneously?

Our children deserve our full attention. I remember reading once to my goddaughter while also checking my mail on the computer. She stopped me mid-sentence and demanded, “I need to see your eyes!” Hearing my voice wasn’t enough. She knew I had the book memorized and could do two things at a time and she did not like it one bit!

Your spouse deserves your full attention. Statistically, husbands and wives talk (really talk) to each other for only a few short minutes a day. But counselors tell us that husbands and wives need at least 15 hours of REAL communication every week in order to maintain a healthy marriage. That kind of personal attention requires focus.

Our coworkers deserve our attention. We might be able to “get more done” by multitasking, but it is often at the expense of a relationship that in the long run will help accomplish much more. To help me remember this truth, I used to have a sign on my desk that said, “You are not an interruption of my work, you are my work.” It helped.

And certainly the Lord deserves our full gaze. When we are praying, we need to pray. When we are reading scripture, we need to focus and if we do get distracted, make a conscious effort to redirect ourselves back into the Word. (I use a note pad to capture wandering thoughts so I can quickly make the note and get back to what is most important.)

Bottom line this week, let’s all try to avoid situations where we can “walk and chew gum at the same time.” Let’s carve out some quality emotional time and invest it in others. Let’s look them in the eye, listen with our heart and our head, and find a way to connect. It’s an investment that is worth making. The dividends are eternal.

By His Grace and for His Glory,
Sherry L. Worel


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