Sunday, August 30, 2009

Unplugged. Offline. Uni-tasking.

This weekend I spent Saturday on the McCready homestead in Chandlersville, an Ohio Century Farm, canning tomatoes, picking grapes and canning juice, and later, exhausted but content in the porch swing on the gazebo watching the sun go down. No cell service. No email. No texting.

In this über-connected 24/7 culture (there's even my BlackBerry app called ÜberTwitter), I'm working to give myself at least one day a week unplugged and offline. My department and I have vowed to allow weekends for respite, with at least one day of "no emailing" allowed. A genuine sabbath, rest and renewal, so we can return to work recharged.

That's hard in a society that admires multitasking.

I suspected I'd crossed the line of multi-tasking and constant e-connectivity when I started keeping my laptop on the breakfast table. You know, just to check emails and online news.

Here we have a small made-for-two drop leaf table in the kitchen with coffee mugs, cereal bowls, newspapers. And my computer.

Friday morning Bob says to me, "Do you need fish oil?"
"What's official?" I reply, not missing a Tweet, but missing the conversation across the table.

I've been reading recent research that shows not only the ineffectiveness, but even the dangers of multitasking (like using the cellphone while driving). We now know that multitasking may not lead to higher productivity.

Today's NYT carried a fun and sardonic (okay, snarky) article on the editorial page. The title: The Mediocre Multitasker. Ouch!

So, I'm working on slowing down and uni-tasking. Won't you join me? Let's take small steps toward slowing down, showing up, and doing just one thing at a time.



  1. It's all about being present, isn't it? So many times we're not present for each other, or even for ourselves. We're sitting in a meeting, but we're emailing, glancing at the Blackberry, mentally preparing for the next meeting, etc. You know, my mother wouldn't call it multi-tasking...she'd call it plain rude. We need to pay attention to the research cited in this post. Not only are we becoming less effective at work, we're becoming less connected and respectful to the humans we live beside each day. I don't want to be like that. I want to be present for my colleagues, for my husband, for my kids. Anybody with me? Tanny

  2. The research I have read stated that people who multitask just do more things ineffectively. I say do one thing, do it right and enjoy the moment.

  3. Ophir's research at Stanford confirms this, too.
    Thanks for sharing...and yes, enjoy the moment. M.E.

  4. I multitask way too frequently. I used to think that everything I was doing, I was doing well. My maturity tells me I need to slow down, say no occasionally, and quit trying to do everything. And it's not being done well when I'm not in the moment.
    I'm counting on my friends at WC to hold my feet to the fire!

  5. I'm with you, Tanny. It's become too easy to not look up at our friends and family because are eyes and mind are stuck to a screen that at the time we consider more important. It takes conscious effort and self-discipline to unplug and move beyond the wireless world. But I'm always so much happier when I do.