Last week I went to Pennsylvania to attend a Family Medicine Review Course. I got 51 hours of Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits in six days.
I wasn’t really looking forward to the week, although I wanted (and needed) the credits, so I was surprised at how much I enjoyed myself. The lectures were fascinating and the speakers were, for the most part, dynamic and easy to listen to. I was your typical geek, sitting down front and taking notes right on my iPad (I downloaded all the slides from all the lectures before I left home.)
I have a passion for family medicine and to be able to devote a whole week to that one discipline—what’s new, best practices, and emerging research—was wonderful.
In the middle of the week, I sat in the front row of a workshop and the woman next to me, who I assumed was very interested in the topic being presented as she, too, sat in the front row, was on her computer working on patient charts the entire duration of the two-hour workshop.
I thought how time pressured she must be feeling to be working on her charts throughout the lecture rather than paying attention, which I was sure she wanted to do.
That’s when I realized what a luxury it was to sit in the lecture hall and focus exclusively on one thing. I didn’t have to worry about child care; I didn’t have unfinished charts that needed my attention; I wasn’t watching the time to make sure I wasn’t late for whatever came next. Because I was five states away from home for the week, I had made arrangements ahead of time and cleared my schedule entirely.
I was there to learn, and I did! I was focused, I was attentive, and I soaked it all in.
On the drive home, I reflected on my week and the experience of, for lack of a better phrase, not multitasking. I’ve never been one who liked to multitask, as I know it’s actually an inefficient way to work, but of course I do it. For example, I wrote the first draft of this post sitting in my car in the car pool line, waiting to pick up my son.
Having the chance to focus on one thing for a whole week made me want to find more times in my life when I am not multitasking.
Fortunately, I’m hosting a writing retreat on Saturday, October 17, 2015, (for more information on that, please click here,) and I get to participate in the writing retreat, as well as host it—so yes, I’ll be doing a little bit of multitasking there.
Beyond Saturday, I’ve committed to a four-hour block of writing time at least once a week. That means no Internet, no laundry, no phone calls—just writing.
While I can multitask, and I’ve gotten good at writing in short spaces of time, I’ve decided I want the luxury of a significant block of writing time. Not just because I can get a lot done, but also because I enjoy that feeling of focus and passion that arises whenever I give myself the gift of uninterrupted time to think about and do the things I’m most passionate about.
How about you? Do you have/want/long for uninterrupted time to pursue your passions?
For locals, I’m hosting a writing retreat in Nashua on Saturday, October 17th (the day after tomorrow!) and I still have a few opening left. I’d love to have you join us if you are ready to spend some uninterrupted time with your journal or your WIP in the company of other writers. For more information and to register, please click here.
Diane MacKinnon, MD: is a writer, blogger, life coach, and family physician. So far, I’m loving being the mother of a school-age child. He’s happy to go to school and I’m happy to do other things until we meet again in the afternoon. I’m a grateful woman, writer, and life coach these days!