Learning To Mono-Task

family story
I’ve decided its time to leave the multi-tasker. I know its hard to believe. I was so in love, so enamored with my ability to do two or three things at once. It made me feel so PROfessssional. Everything I did was sexy then – answering email while writing a proposal made me feel like a star athlete. Sign me up for the Olympic team – I could talk on the phone, cook dinner and schedule our next vacation all while listening to the news!
The lure of the multi-tasker is powerful. It offers you everything seemingly at a cost of nothing. Who doesn’t want to accomplish more in less time? That would leave you more time to…well multi-task! Think of how successful you could become if you could just do two jobs at once. Two salaries, now thats something I could use!

Then the baby came along. I know what you’re thinking: babies are magical multi-tasking accessories. You can talk on your cell while putting them down for a nap, watch TV while feeding them a bottle, mentally plan your day while changing that diaper. All of this is true unless of course you notice the actual baby. In that moment everything stops.

It really is all about moments, isn’t it multi-tasker? Thats the hidden cost of our affair. You made me feel successful, and I gave you the moments when I would have otherwise been present. The quality of my work suffered even though the quantity improved. I didn’t actually feel any value in the work I was doing, because I wasn’t really fully there when it was happening. My moments had almost no value to me, not surprising that I didn’t care when you took them. They should have had more value when I was courting my wife or planning our lives together. Our child was the only one able to teach me the value of my own attention.

At first our son didn’t realize when I was multi-tasking. He was only a few months old and I was often so tired from being a new parent I could barely function at all. Then he started to feel something when Papa’s attention wasn’t fully on him. I’m sure I felt different; tensing up when a call from a client came through, not responding to his smile when I was thinking about getting dinner together, getting angry at things that in calmer moments would bring me delight.

The older he got, the wiser to our affair he became. He knew when I was checking in with you, seeing what I might cram into the hour while he was napping or his Momma took him out on a walk. He had learned he would have to fight you for those precious moments you so love to hoard. My son was wiser than me about being fully present, as the moment is the only place he lives.

It was only a few days ago when I turned away from a brief planning meeting with you, mult-tasker, to see him turning away from me – realizing that he’d been defeated by you again. Thankfully I was present for that moment of grief, when I saw how I had let my son down by just not being present. I had squandered attention that really belonged to my family. I realized its not just mine to give away anymore.
Its not hard to imagine what the future holds if our affair continues. A mounting debt of attention I owe my son, not to mention the ever growing debt I owe my marriage. Your game is obvious, a Ponsie scheme fated to collapse and take my relationship with my family with it. You never had my best interest at heart, only your own ends. Thanks, but no thanks.

Today, now, in this moment I choose to end our relationship. I’m sure I will have to make the same choice, over and over again, as I know you to be exceptionally persistent. The moment is what you hunger for, you seek it endlessly. You will not succeed with me because I now know you never offered anything of value. What good is work if it doesn’t feed you? What value is my life if I can’t share it with those I love.

I’ve made a new friend – mono-tasking. So far it seems very cool to hang out with. It could guide the next wave of work for America – focusing full attention on what we do. Imagine how our world would change if we put our whole selves into our work so we can then focus again on what’s really important: love.


  • LibraryMan
    January 23, 2010 - 6:42 pm · Reply

    Agreed, in full. Multitasking is how I once lost track of my love, necessitating my own death when she entered the worlds beyond. May we all be blessed with the knowledge that within the soul work is play, but play is never work. May we be blessed once more with innocence, which is not the same as naivete. Here’s to you, for realizing in time!

  • lisa
    September 9, 2010 - 11:22 pm · Reply

    I could not have said it better myself. What is the point of doing the moment when you are not enjoying and being in it?–lisa

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