Are you a multitasker?
Meaning, can you do multiple things at the same time?
Read while listening to music. Talk on the phone while surfing the web or checking email. Listen to a podcast while doing your job at work. Have sex while balancing your checkbook.
Sure, as humans we are capable of doing multiple tasks at the same time.
That’s not the point I’m making.
My point — how well do you do those tasks?
Researchers at Stanford University have found that multitaskers are actually poor at multitasking.
So how does this impact married life?
It creates distance, coldness, and even isolation.
How many times have you and your spouse had a deep conversation with the TV on? Or while one of you was on the computer?
How’d it go?
What about date night where one or both of you didn’t put down your phone?
I think it’s time to let go of the myth of multitasking.
Our lives, and our relationships are better served when we learn to sequential task. Devote all your attention to the moment. Then disconnect from that task when it’s done and move to the next one.
To put this idea another way …
Be where your butt is.
So, the next time you’re in the middle of doing something and you find yourself thinking of something else. Or you’re sitting at work – daydreaming about the weekend. Or you’re with a group of friends – texting other friends. Or you’re having dinner with your family – still mentally at work.
1. Disconnect, then connect.
At the end of the work day, take the time to disconnect mentally before arriving home. Listen to good music on the way home. Walk. Read. When you get home, turn off the phone, don’t check your business email, leave the projects at work. Point is: when you are with your family, be with your family. When you’re with friends, be with friends.
2. Don’t answer your phone.
When you are with others and your phone rings or vibrates due to a call, text, email, IM, push notification, etc. – don’t answer. Let voice mail do its job. Whatever it is can wait. There are very little “real” emergencies in life.
3. Turn away from the screen time.
When you’re surfing, watching, or working and your spouse or kids approach you for something, hit pause, close the laptop, put the device down completely and connect with them face to face. Look them in the eye. Listen. Connect. It probably will only take a few minutes then you can move back to the task at hand. Point is: spend your time with them – with them.
4. Create a no distraction zone.
When it’s time to work, clear away distractions, and work. But what about the times you’re with the one you love? When you’re with your lover, focus on them. Listen. Respond. Love.
There are many times I’ve been out with my wife and we see other couples out together, but on their phones texting or surfing. Once I watched a family of three sit across from me, each on their phones. The only words spoken at the table were to place their order.
Distractions most often keep us disconnected with the world around us, making us feel uneasy, alone or lost. Of all the species on the planet, humans are the only ones who speed up when they’re lost or anxious. Every other animal sits still until they get their bearings before proceeding where they want to go.
Slowing down to find your pace and your bearing is vital to a life fully alive.
So, when you find you’re not where your butt is.
Don’t panic. Simply breathe.