Life’s Bookmarks

Book with post-it notesPeople are only given so many bookmarks in life.

They can be reused, but only so many can be used at one time.

By “bookmark” I mean the ability to keep your place in tasks when your attention is diverted elsewhere.  You have to put a bookmark in that place, otherwise it is serious work to find your place back there.

For example, when you’re cooking dinner, there might be a bookmark on the pot of rice and on the beans while you are chopping vegetables for a salad.  When you finish chopping vegetables, you go back to stir the beans.  There is also a bookmark on the kids, because you have to be attentive to what they are doing at the same time.

People with ADHD have fewer bookmarks.  They lose their place easier, and it takes more effort for them to return to what they were doing.

This morning, I put a bookmark on making coffee and emptying the dishwasher (both of which I intended to do, in that order) while I started making toast.  The bookmark on making coffee didn’t stick, so when the toast was in the toaster, I started emptying the dishwasher.  After a few dishes I remembered I was going to take out the coffeepot and make coffee, but it took more effort to remember that.  It was not queued up for me, bookmarked for me to remember effortlessly.  I put a bookmark on the dishwasher, made coffee, and returned to the dishwasher when I finished.  Then that bookmark was free to use elsewhere.

Being a parent takes bookmarks.  You have to keep track of where the kids are and what they are doing.  If you lose that bookmark, you don’t notice that it’s “too quiet” until the mess is ginormous.  But using the bookmark on the kids takes away from the bookmarks you can use for other things (writing e-mails, emptying the dishwasher, etc.)

Do you notice your bookmarks? Do you have lots of bookmarks, or do you wish you had more?

What’s on my menu?

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