Some Thoughts on Unplugging: or learning to put down the iPhone and start single-tasking.

All our lives as women we are told that our multi-tasking ability is what sets us apart from men – what allows us to cook dinner and carry on a conversation at once, or run with many different projects at the same time, or put on our mascara while driving to the supermarket (OK just kidding about that last one and I can hand-on-heart say I have never applied makeup while driving).

Multi-tasking is held aloft, put on a pedestal and worshiped as a she-god, as the apex of time-management and efficiency and overal womanly awesomeness.

Housewife at Cooker

Source: wikimedia Commons

However I’m starting to think that perhaps we got a bit of a raw deal here. As we continuously strive to achieve more and more, as technology gets ever more efficient, compact and transportable, as we are bombarded non-stop by opportunities to connect, chat, message, tweet, blog, network and pin, it feels to me like we are on the fast-track to burn-out.  

To give you an example, when I left work this evening, I checked my twitter feed on my iPhone as I walked to the tube, with a few text message (sorry, iMessage) interruptions from my husband, and the seeds of a post planting in my mind. I then wrote much of this post on my iPad on the tube home (with the guy next to me pretending he wasn’t reading it). Off of the tube and back in 3G reception, I got the phone out again and wrote and replied to about half a dozen emails while waiting for the bus in the rain. Then some sketches for new designs on the bus, before finally getting home and proceeding to largely ignore my husband as he lovingly cooked me dinner for the bajillionth night in a row while I wrote emails, updated my website, started drafting a newsletter, ate dinner and almost watched a movie at the same time.

My husband says the first thing he sees in the morning when he wakes up is the glow of my iPhone held over my face as I check emails (yes ok and Twitter) first thing. He tells me off constantly for crossing the road with my nose in my phone. Yes! Crossing the road!

He’s completely right of course. Not only is it dangerous, but it’s depriving me of vital head-clearing time. Remember when walking from a to b was a bit of a break? Some fresh air and perspective? I actually realised last night that my posture as I walked was appalling and giving me backache due to a) high heels (sorry not giving those up), b) my gadget-loaded bag weighing me down on one side and c) my head bent down into my phone.

So in this month of resolutions, I’m resolving to put down the iPhone every now and then. I’m going to walk to the tube breathing deeply, standing up tall, and keeping an eye on the traffic. I will check my emails every hour, not every ten minutes. I might sit on the tube and do nothing (although the thought still gives me shudders). And I might just take the odd night off to do the cooking for a change and do what I used to do with my husband before our iLife. Talk.


One Response to Some Thoughts on Unplugging: or learning to put down the iPhone and start single-tasking.
  1. Andri
    January 6, 2012 | 9:36 am

    So true we do like to multi task, good to hear you’re going to take some time for yourself something we all need to remember to do more often.