Newsline Volume 34, Number 1

Zen & The Art of Single-Tasking

By Christie C. White, M.Ed., Federation Volunteer

I recently had the pleasure of volunteering in the Federation office for the first time and I'm here to tell you that National Grid has absolutely NOTHING on the "Command Central" that is the Parent Information Center.

From the desks and shelves, the computers and phones, the pens and paper, the materials and information at the ready, and the expert volunteer training provided by the Federation staff, everything in the Parent Information Center is designed for one purpose: to provide families with high-quality guidance and information in a timely manner. There is, delightfully, little else in this room except what serves this purpose.

Gradually over the course of my time at the Federation I grew to appreciate this nuance while pondering, "Gee, why does this feel so foreign?" It turns out that for me, and possibly you, except for weekly worship, I'm hard-pressed to point to a moment during the course of a regular week when I am not multi-tasking up to my eyeballs. I don't suspect I'm unique in this regard.

One of the casualties we face as chronic multi-taskers is that we so rarely get to the pleasure of doing just one thing well. In this "multi-tasking-free zone" I had the luxury of focusing my heart and mind on one important task: fielding parent phone calls and providing resources and information to families.

Of course it goes without saying that in order to do one thing well, one must say "no" to competing, and perhaps equally compelling, goals and tasks. This is a principal I understand, but oh, what a challenge it is to implement consistently!

My take-away? My volunteer week with the Federation has inspired me to say "no" a little more often to those shiny metal objects in my day-to-day life in order to say "yes" to that small handful of priorities that are exquisitely vital: my family and my health, engaging in meaningful work, my faith, and my community. Here's to the unsung art of single-tasking!


Contact the Parent Training and Information Center at the Federation to learn more about volunteer opportunities,