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Can You Live In The Moment And Multitask?

Living in the moment means focusing on the present. According to sports psychologist George Mumford, it involves tapping into a mental state called “the Zone” (Mumford, 2016, p. 45). Here, athletes – unaffected by the chaotic thoughts of everyday life – excel beyond their potential even in the heat of competition. Many young athletes desire such a skill – to reach this Zone even in the confusion of a close game.

But what does being present in the moment mean in a practical sense?

As a busy student-athlete, I am constantly jumping from one task to the next. Walking to class, I review my schedule for the day. Right before class, I write down things I plan to complete. During class, I take notes. After class, I reread my notes or rehearse them while walking to my next class. I am a doer. I like to be busy. However, my multitasking has removed me far and away from being present in the moment.

My multitasking has removed me far and away from being present in the moment.

This past week, during my daily, personal time with God, God consistently brought up to me the theme of waiting on Him. The devotionals I read focused on putting God in charge of the day and allowing Him to work through it. Rather than create a schedule, they suggested entering the day without expectation or planning.

I was horrified.

How was I supposed to get things done without planning?

What the devotional meant was to begin my day by first giving authority to God to plan the events He wanted. Then, as my day continued, I would have the chance to complete things that I needed to do. At the same time, though, my mind and heart had to be open to do the things that God might call me to. This, explained the devotionals, is waiting on God. This is living in the present moment.

Throughout the week, I struggled to wait on God. Finally, on Saturday, exhausted and alone in my dorm, I offered God the day.

To my surprise, things fell into place without my planning. For instance, I went for a run with a friend. I saw some teammates and did volleyball drills with them. I worked on homework with a classmate and also helped her complete a video for a class project. These activities were things that I enjoy doing and might have done anyway, but on Saturday I was able to do them with other people. God demonstrated that He would take care of me and my day.

It is ironic that God is teaching me this right now because our team is focusing on practicing and playing with a sense of urgency. To become better both individually and as a team, we need to focus our attention on each ball contact as it happens, playing as though it is the last time we will ever touch the ball.

In the United States, this sense of urgency is heightened throughout popular culture. As technology continues to advance, it pushes each person to do things faster and more effectively. No longer can a person stop to think or enjoy the moment – this wastes precious time.

No longer can a person stop to think or enjoy the moment – this wastes precious time.

But, as sports psychologist Mumford explains, the here and now is what truly matters. The mind is most effective when it focuses on one thing alone, rather than skipping from task to task like a monkey swinging through vines (Mumford, 2016, p. 67). For our team, focusing on each touch in each moment can provide us with both the urgency and intensity to improve, while still being present in the moment. This translates directly to performance in the heat of competition.

But what about in daily life? Perhaps waiting on God is living in the moment, too. I am expecting God to be present with me and provide me with instruction or an action to do. When opportunities present themselves, I pursue them boldly under His guidance. While this one experience on Saturday did change me, I am still learning to wait. I believe that God can teach me to wait on Him and be present in the moment at the same time. It's a difficult balance to achieve, but with God, all things are possible.


References

Mumford, G. (2016). The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Pure Performance. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.