At this very moment, while you are reading this, how many tabs do you have open on your laptop/mobile device? Three or five minimum, I’m guessing.
You’ve clicked on this link from an e-mail alert or a social media update, which means that the other window is still open in the background. Am I right?
How about devices? How many are next to you, at this very moment? Two? Maybe more?
Effectively, you are multi tasking. That’s what it looks like. It’s the norm. That’s the truth. I won’t tell you it’s worrying or detrimental because well, that’s the way it is. As Christopher Willard says in this piece,
There’s nothing inherently bad or good about technology. Technology just is.
The thing about multi tasking, though, is that it lets us believe that we are doing many things well, when in fact, we are struggling to focus on any one thing effectively.
[bctt tweet=”Doing many things at once is not equal to doing them well. #Mindfulness” username=”shyvish”]
Let’s do a simple experiment. Trust me, this won’t take long.
So, are you ready? Here are a few things you can do now.
Now, take a few deep breaths and watch your breathing as you read this post. Focus on the way you inhale and exhale consciously all through the reading. What do you notice? A sense of calm and relaxation will fill you up. For the few minutes that you spend reading, your mind is not jumping in different directions. You can concentrate.
Feeling better? That’s because your mind is directing all its energies to just one task.
Move distractions away:
Social media is a virtual quicksand with all those ways of making you believe that something is more important than the task you are working on, right at this moment.
Go ahead and close all those other windows/ tabs on your browser; move all other gadgets away from you except for the one you’re reading this piece on.
What do you notice? You are not edgy, not waiting for that device to ping with a notification, saying that there’s something that needs your attention. How quickly are you able to register what’s being said on this page? There’s your answer.
Make a list:
As soon as you are done with this post, sit down and write out your list of things to be done for the next hour/day. Prioritise them based on urgency. Tick them off one at a time when done. If you manage to complete everything on the list, ask yourself what helped to make it happen. Chances are, you weren’t multi tasking.
Use the 10-minute rule
Personally, this one has been a lifesaver for me. I’ve broken down tasks into ten-minute chunks and felt a sense of accomplishment when I managed to complete them in that time frame.
Any task, for that matter, requires concentration and commitment, if we are to do a good job of it. It’s one reason why writers who truly commit to the art of writing (and manage to get out books) are masters in the art of single-tasking (if there is such a word).
Digital content is the way forward and here to stay and I’d be a hypocrite if I were to ignore all the personal and professional benefits that come my way thanks to the tech era.
What we can do, however, is ensure that our connection to tech remains just that- a connection, not a dependence.