Addicted to Multitasking

My name is Ursula and I am multitasking addict.

Living in Silicon Valley, working moms take multitasking to the extreme. We are always on, leaning in, reclining or shrugging it off. Our worlds revolve around the hamster wheel of innovation and progress. Always pushing us forward into the unknown void of a supposedly better future. And if you can’t multitask, you’re going to fall off that wheel or loose a limb or two. So, is multitasking endemic to our environment or part of our DNA?

For me, it’s a little bit of both. Even before the digital age, I was always someone who had to be doing 5 things at once. Maybe that is why I am ambidextrous and today can watch multiple TV shows while checking work emails, , and creating this blog.  But I’m also a multitasking addict because of the choices I have made in being a mother, my career and wanting to spend more time with my family. And I think I am not alone.  How many of you working moms have found yourself in this situation:

7 AM. I have a headset in my ears, phone by my side and laptop on the kitchen counter. I log into the connect session for my second call of the morning. As I wait for coworkers to join the call, I feed our dog, Maverick, and then begin prepping breakfast and lunch. Oh yes, I forgot to mention my husband is in Europe on a business trip—he also works in high tech. As the call begins, I look at the agenda then head upstairs to wake the kids as I listen to the first speaker.

My kids are 8 and 10 years old, so fortunately, they are used to this routine. And I rarely get any grief from them especially when Maverick is with me, ready to give them a juicy kiss. I wake them up, give them a quick hug and point to the morning “To Do” check list posted outside the bathroom door: Go to the bathroom, brush teeth, brush hair, get dressed, make beds. They have until 7:30 AM to make it downstairs. I continue to listen to the first speaker and can actually visualize the Powerpoint slide he is referencing. As I walk back into the kitchen, I check my  and schedule a couple tweets.

Once in the kitchen, I position my laptop behind the food prep workspace. I can see the presentation and actually engage in conversation about the topic while I spread mustard on a piece of wheat bread. As I reach in the refrigerator for the turkey meat, I receive a text from my husband, “How are you?” I type my response, “Great. How are you? On a call, let’s talk in 30.” As I hit the send button, I hear my name mentioned on the call. I make a comment about the topic. And then if on queue, my son runs into the kitchen followed by my barking dog. I hastily hit the mute button on my phone as a co-worker makes a crack about my living in the “Wild Kingdom.” I continue with the call, pack sandwiches into lunch bags and then start in on making breakfast. I cut up some fruit and scramble some eggs. The call ends. I yell out, “breakfast,” and the kids come running in. I take the headset off and sit down at the kitchen table. We discuss our plans for the day as we eat.

This might seem extreme but this doesn’t happen all the time. And I do set aside time every day to disconnect from my electronics. If I meet people face-to-face, I engage in a conversation without checking my phone ten times. Family dinners are mandatory and a time to reconnect. And unless I have an important project, I don’t check work email on the weekends. Yes, at times it is exhausting to be a multitasking addict, but without it, I wouldn’t be able to find that precious quality time with my family. And to be honest, that’s just how most of us moms roll, living and working in Silicon Valley. 

Thanksgivukkah

Last night I had an impromptu girls night out “family dinner” with three of my best girlfriends. The type of evening you can’t plan – one that organically integrates and you need it more then anything. When everyone had a crap day, and needed a collective shoulder to lean on.

We were celebrating new jobs, former jobs, and grand future plans together. Laughing, sharing stories of love, heartbreak, sexism, leaning in (and out) and everything in between, I was reminded how grateful I am for the wonderful women who navigate silicon valley along side me. Even as four privileged women – who have been given every opportunity for success – spending any amount of time in this valley can be hard. Really hard. Even when it’s suppose to be an enlightened, progressive, meritocracy, where everyone is empowered and breaking traditional norms are celebrated, it can still be hard. In order to have any hope of success or happiness it’s imperative to have girlfriends (of all types) along for the ride.

Girlfriends at the office, who you can share a smile with when someone shows up with a push up bra, collagen lips, sleeping with the boss and asks to be taken seriously.

Girlfriends who will point out that your ex-boyfriend is giving a TedTalk which has gotten 20,000 views today and it’s probably a good sign you had no idea. (But it’s okay to watch it when you get home).

Girlfriends who will tell you it’s okay that you didn’t say anything when you were told “you should have been born a man” because you didn’t even realize how offensive it was until the moment had passed.

Girlfriends who know how to eat – and understand that sometimes a fries course after an entrée is not only acceptable, but encouraged!

Girlfriends who will remind you that you do in fact know something about the market you work in, and it’s okay to share that.

Girlfriends who know what it feels like to be articulate and poised navigating technical nuance and market share, but tongue tied and blubbered about their own emotions.

Girlfriends who will take you out to dancing and karaoke and make sure you finish that fireball damn-it! And let you pass out on their couch and take your hungover self to work the next morning.

Girlfriends who run along side you around the park and back because the endorphins will make you both happier. Bright neon shoes highly encouraged!

Girlfriends who will get you hired, be your boss, mentor you, and teach you what “ROI” means. (The amount of jargon in this valley could fill several dictionaries).

Girlfriends who look to you for guidance that remind you how far you’ve come even when you think you haven’t learned a thing.

Girlfriends where you can be yourself, judgment free, and have a good long laugh with.

In this season of Thanksgivukkah – I give thanks to the women along side me.