One Thing at a Time: multitasking (part 1)

For years we have been trying to do more with less. We, as employees, entrepreneurs, and parents seek to multitask and get more done in less time. The Great American Dream was to increase productivity and leisure time – but that hasn’t worked out so well. We thought we could systematize industry and agriculture, and allow ourselves shorter work weeks and more time to pursue self actualization.

This is the first of a four part series exploring parenting as it relates to multitasking.

Tom James the unicycling juggler. . .As parents, we tried hard to spend quality time with our kids, while answering work emails on our phones. We watched our kids playing soccer, while participating on conference calls on the sidelines. We took our kids to business meetings and hoped they wouldn’t be too disruptive. And when all else failed, we shipped them off to daycare while we worked hard to provide nicer cars, bigger houses, and Disney dream vacations.

On the one hand, multi-tasking is necessary. On the other, it is just an excuse for our constant busyness. But consider this, instead of talking on the phone while you’re shopping, driving, or with your kids at the park, why not make yourself available for silence and conversation. I won’t talk on the phone when I’m driving – it’s a safety issue – but more importantly, this time together can create space for some quality time. I’ll admit, sometimes it happens, and sometimes it doesn’t. But if I’m on the phone, I can guarantee it won’t happen.

The same with music in the car. Of course there are times when everyone enjoys listening to music (and books, stories, etc) while driving, but I’ve found that the silence can create space for me to connect with my kids. Like many parents, I wish I had more time for my kids – so I’ve reserved the car for this purpose. In fact, we borrowed a rule from my brother’s family, media consumed in the car will be shared by everyone. In other words, we are not going to have one kid on an iPod, another on a tablet, another watching videos, and so on. We will consume media as a family.

Consuming media as a family will enable us to be on the same path together. We can talk about the story we just listened to, journey with the same music, or at least not fracture like many families are prone to do. This may be more difficult as our kids enter adolescence, but that’s why we’re starting now.


(to be continued…)

Part 1 – Multitasking

Part 2 – An example from a paramedic

Part 3 – Don’t say, “I’m just too busy.

Part 4 – What we did


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