Archive for category Multitasking
A Day Without Multitasking
I continue to ponder the analogy of traffic and its relation to multitasking and managing our businesses and life in general. Personally and professionally, the past couple weeks have provided much fodder. Today’s blog reviews a bit of what I’ve discovered personally.
Last week was wicked. Over several days, our family said good-by to my dear Aunt Nellie. Actually, she was my aunt-in-law, but through the years, she and I often joked that we were the outlaws. In reality, she was my aunt-in-heart. You know those people who enter your life and instantly seem to know your soul? They love and support you unconditionally and it has nothing to do with bloodlines – those are in-heart relatives and friends. I’m blessed to have and have had a number of these people in my life. I will miss my aunt, but in our final time together, she provided me something completely unexpected.
We had to drive 2.5 hours between services in New York and Connecticut along the infamous Interstate 95. Thankfully the traffic was light, the day was beautiful, and the ride, though long, was cathartic. After spending some time reminiscing, we mostly became quiet – each of us slipping into our own thoughts. For me, having previously lived in Connecticut, the familiarity of all we passed was welcoming. At the section where you can see the Long Island Sound, I wondered about the cargo ships – where they were from and what they might be hauling. At many exits, I longed turn off onto roads that lead to Connecticut friends whom I haven’t seen in too long, and accepted that there would be no reunions this trip. I studied the craggy trees and bushes that line the highway. Their imperfection is intriguing to me as it is borne from years of weathering the many storms that roll up the East Coast. Storms, like traffic, are so unpredictable.
Previously, I would never have considered a ride along the usually hectic I-95 a “four-way stop,” but on that day and in that time, it became exactly that. The frenetic traffic patterns of the many roads of my life paused – there was no multitasking, no worrying about other things. I was in the moment and it was as it should be. Somehow the sad ride along I-95 became a peaceful journey. We need these “four-way stops” to power down, reflect and renew.
“The Streets of San Francisco”
In 1985, Carmen Hass-Klau, an expert in public transportation, introduced Americans to the concept of Verkehrsberuhigung. Translated from German, it means “traffic calming” which is basically the measures engineers and planners use for intentionally reducing or slowing motor vehicle traffic. I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m sharing this rather long and difficult to pronounce word and what does it have to do with multitasking.
Yesterday, I was catching up with a dear friend who recently returned from a three-week visit to her daughter’s home in San Francisco. She was saying that driving alone in an unfamiliar city had been the most challenging part of her trip. She was forced to step outside her comfort zone. Then she mentioned that it was made tolerable by the fact that many of the intersections had 4-way stops, affording her an opportunity to take a breath and gain her confidence back. WHAM! You know those cartoons where the light bulb goes off over the character’s head…that was me! Verkehrsberuhigung is working on the streets of San Francisco – could it work in other areas of life as well?
I recently wrote about the downside to doing too much in a guest blog (The Problem with Multitasking) on Spin Sucks and have been developing a plan for eliminating unproductive multitasking. My friend’s traffic comment was an “Aha” moment. In business and life, we all have hilly, steep Lombard Streets to maneuver, so does creating our own “traffic calming” moments, those times that allow us a moment to breathe and regain confidence, make a difference? Are 4-way stops the answer to juggling? Stay tuned…
In the meantime, what kinds of “4-way stops” are effective for you? I may use your comments in a future post!