Thanks to the ever-growing efficiency of high speed internet, I have built the skill of Continuous Partial Attention to a highly evolved art form.
Actually, I could blame parenting for my distractibility as much as I do the internet. One evening last week, I tried to keep track of everything I did. I couldn't manage it.
A partial listing of an evening with the kids: altered daughter's graduation dress and did practice hair and make up, discussed Chinese characters, bounced around thoughts about national politics and the soccer World Cup, removed a splinter from a child, removed a tick from a dog, explained where some biblical events lined up with the political history of the time, illustrated details of the periodic table and subatomic particles, built with lego, made up another episode of a continuing story about nocturnal creatures in the rainforest in Borneo, talked about the origins of the Cultural Revolution, and made some popsicles. Oh, and got people to and from track, ballet and baseball practices.
Ten years ago, I was still a perfectionist and the constant stream of tasks partially, or imperfectly done, would have driven me mad (in both senses of the word); now I usually just roll with it. This whirlwind is a short-lived one, and I love every bit of it (well, except maybe removing ticks from dogs - I could give that a pass). At some point along the way, you realize that a lot of the "distractions" in life, actually are Life; the things that matter go by in a blink of an eye; the most important conversations in a day might happen in that fifteen second time-slot between teaching someone how to put on eye makeup and how to factor an equation.
Distraction is a fine art - you need to know when the distraction is really the main thing.