I was very proud of my husband last night when he decided to turn off the baseball game (he is a huge Red Sox fan, so I know this was probably challenging for him) in order to focus on reading to Ella, my step-daughter. You should have seen the smile on her face when her dad clicked off the TV and said, "this is Ella time."
It seems as if we have all become master multi-taskers. We have been taught, and now believe, that we are more successful when we are doing multiple tasks at once. However, it has occurred to me that a result of our need to be doing more then one thing at a time is a loss of depth and connection with ourselves and those around us.
Yes, I may be able to accomplish more faster if I am responding to a work email while discussing the weekend's plans on the phone with my husband or talking to my mom on my cell phone while pushing my daughter on the swing, but what it is costing me?
It costs me an opportunity to be in the moment and fully connect with one other person. The email response is shorter and more abrupt and there are typos because I wasn't fully paying attention. My husband gets frustrated because I don't remember what we decided on. My mom keeps getting interrupted as I deal with my daughter. And my daughter is playing at the park with a mom who is not available to play with her.
Seeing the look on Ella's face when her dad declared that the following 15 minutes was her time and not her time shared with the TV (or anything else for that matter) reminded me of how important it is to make the conscious choice to choose connection--choose the relationship. Not all the time, but some of the time. Turn off the technology (or one piece of the technology) and give just one thing or one person your undivided attention. Especially when it comes to kids, sometimes even just 15 minutes of an adult (preferably their parent) focusing just on them with no other distractions is enough to last them an entire day (or longer).
Try it out. The next time you find yourself doing more than one thing at once, especially in the area of communication with others, see what if feels like to turn something off and choose one task or person to give your focus to.