close-up of a grey cat over white background

Baby was the small Russian Blue cat that we inherited when we bought our converted split-level home in Orem, Utah. We quickly learned that she was a highly intelligent cat of diminutive size with lightening-fast speed and reflexes.

One day I observed Baby sitting on the window sill staring out at the flower bed. I assumed that she was simply enjoying the sun. I strode past her with a load of folded shirts in one arm and reached out to stroke her back. She sort of gurgled a purr in acknowledgment of my contact but otherwise did not move a muscle except for the occasional flick of her tail. Clearly, she was engrossed in study of something. I paused to see if I could discover what it might be. Hummingbirds!


Several Hummingbirds were at the feeder hanging near the deck in my backyard and Baby was highly focused on their activity. Later that afternoon, Baby delivered a dead Hummingbird to my feet as I sat reading a book. I’ve had many cats in my life so I appreciatively reached out to stoke my feline friend and thanked her. As I flushed the dead bird down the toilet, I thought, “It must have been sick.” For surely a cat is no match for the speed of a Hummingbird.

The next day Baby gifted me two more Hummingbirds at which point I moved the feeder out of her reach, but as I thought about her ability to stealthily position herself and the speed needed to catch Hummingbirds, I realized what cunning and focus she also had displayed the day she sat in the window sill observing the birds at the feeder. I sure wish I had such focus.


In the fast-paced world we live in, more and more things clamor for our attention. Multi-tasking has become one of the highest goals we seek. So you might be surprised to learn that multi-tasking is not only difficult but it is actually harmful.

It’s easy to convince yourself that multi-tasking is required as you balance work and a personal life, checking emails and cell phones, while spending time with your spouse or children. Yet according to research published by the National Academy of Sciences in 2011, performance is actually damaged by “high cognitive load.” The research stated that as we increase the number of things we need to focus on, the bottleneck of attention blocks our ability to make decisions and limits creative or intuitive leaps. Another study, demonstrated the association between constant multi-tasking and shrunken areas of the brain responsible for cognitive and emotional control. So it may be that trying to leverage your time by doing many things at once actually will lead to poorer results on all of those tasks, as well as harm to relationships and your brain.

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird (archilochus colubris) in flight at a feeder with a colorful background


The bottomline: SLOW DOWN. Do each task well and then move on to the next. You may find yourself less stressed.  You may also find that your relationships flourish, you are more productive, and you enjoy your efforts more.